2011 IOL Team Report

In July of this year we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to represent Australia in the Ninth International Olympiad in Linguistics (IOL). After placing first in OzCLO, we travelled to Pittsburgh, USA, where we were to compete as one of 27 teams from 19 countries.

The competition involved a three-hour team contest and an arduous six-hour individual contest. We were required to solve problems on languages such as Menominee, Faroese, Vai, Nahuatl, Sanskrit, and the language of barcodes, EAN-13. All problems from 2011, as well as from past years, can be viewed at http://www.ioling.org/problems/2011/.

When we weren’t solving complex linguistic problems, we were able to explore the city of Pittsburgh; we went around town absorbing American culture and even heard one of Pittsburgh’s own linguistic quirks, “yinz”, which acts as a plural of “you”. We were able to visit such places as the Andy Warhol Museum and the Cathedral of Learning (part of the University of Pittsburgh), as well as visiting diners and drug stores and everything in between.

At the closing ceremony, solutions were given to all of the problems, and the results of both contests were announced. Gold for the team contest went to the USA’s team Red, silver to Russia’s St. Petersburg team, and bronze to Russia’s Moscow team. The awards for the individual contest consisted of four gold, eight silver, and thirteen bronze medals, as well as twenty-five honourable mentions. We were ecstatic when one of our own, Paul Lau, was awarded a silver medal, Australia’s first ever medal at the IOL! The four gold medals were awarded to individuals from USA (Red), Estonia, Russia (Moscow), and Russia (St. Petersburg).

Overall, we had great time in Pittsburgh; we made lots of friends from all over the world and, despite the challenging problems, we thoroughly enjoyed representing Australia at the IOL. We strongly encourage any interested students to enter OzCLO.

There are several people who have provided us with the opportunity to compete in this year’s IOL. We would like to thank:

  • Jill Vaughan, our wonderful team coach;
  • Dominique Estival and the OzCLO steering committee, as well as all of OzCLO’s sponsors;
  • Rachel Nordlinger, chair of the Victorian arm of OzCLO;
  • The IOL and Carnegie Mellon University;
  • The University High School community, for providing us with support for our trip;
  • Celia King and Jenny Tarr, the teachers who introduced us to OzCLO; and
  • Nell Day, for organizing our school’s 2011 participation in OzCLO.

Report by: Joanna Bloore, Paul Lau, Ben van Mierlo, Anna Zeng, from the University High School, Melbourne.