2011 IOL OzCLO Report

The 9th International Linguistics Olympiad took place in Pittsburgh, USA from 25th – 29th July and was hosted by Carnegie Mellon University. The winning team from the National Round of OzCLO (Joanna Bloore, Paul Lau, Benjamin van Mierlo and Anna Zeng from the University High School, Melbourne) competed against 27 teams from 19 countries in an individual and a group contest. Contestants’ logical ability and problem-solving skills were pushed to the limits to tackle data sets from diverse languages and writing systems including Menominee, Faroese, Vai, Nahuatl and Sanskrit, as well as a fiendish problem on the barcode language EAN-13.

The jury awarded 25 medals (4 gold, 8 silver, and 13 bronze), as well as 25 honourable mentions, 3 team contest trophies, a team cup for highest average score, and 5 best solution prizes. We’re very proud to announce that Australia’s Paul Lau was awarded a silver medal in the individual contest – the highest achievement so far of an Australian student at the IOL! The team also performed very well as a whole against some formidable competition in the group contest.

The primary purpose of the event is to raise public awareness of linguistics. “Linguistics is not a school subject, and students often don’t even know the word,” says Ivan Derzhanski, co-chair of the International Board and associate professor at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. “Our contest is one of the ways of telling them what a fascinating science it is.”

In Australia, OzCLO is now held in 7 locations, with almost 800 students having competed in the First Round in March 2011. This is made possible by the dedication of the local volunteer organisers, with the support of the universities where it is held. The Australian Linguistic Society provided funding for the training of the winning team in preparation to the ILO and generous sponsors helped cover the team’s travel expenses.

After Wroclaw in 2009, Stockholm in 2010 and Pittsburgh in 2011, we look forward to sending another Australian team to next year’s IOL, to be held in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

For more information on the IOL, see http://www.ioling.org/

Report by
Jill Vaughan, Australian Team Leader
Dominique Estival, Chair of the OzCLO Steering Committee