Carnegie Mellon University
August 01, 2011

News Brief: USA, Estonia, Russia Win Gold at Linguistics Olympiad

By Byron Spice

Teams from the United States and Russia took top honors at the Ninth International Linguistics Olympiad (IOL) at Carnegie Mellon, which ended July 29. In individual competition, students from the U.S., Russia and Estonia each took home gold medals.

The event brought together 102 high school students from 19 countries, including four countries new to the competition: Brazil, Canada, United Arab Emirates and Vietnam.

"It is the first time the Olympiad was held outside Europe, and we are happy that participants from all over the world made their way to the USA," said Lori Levin, the organizing committee chair and an associate research professor in CMU's Language Technologies Institute.

The students were challenged with problems that required them to reason about Faroese orthography, Menominee morphology, Vai syntax, Nahuatl semantics, the rules of Sanskrit poetry and the structure of the barcode language EAN-13. For information on the problems, visit the IOL website. Video interviews with participants are available on Facebook.

Out of four gold medals that were awarded at the individual contest, one went to Morris Alper from the USA who got the highest score, and the other three went to Eva-Lotta Käsper from Estonia and Daria Vasilyeva and Alexey Kozlov from Russia. Participants from Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Korea, Latvia, Poland, Slovenia and UK can boast silver and bronze medals.

In the team contest, the gold medal was awarded to one of the U.S. teams, known as "U.S. Red," which also had the highest average score in the individual contest. The silver and bronze medals both went to Russia: the Saint-Petersburg and Moscow teams, respectively.

The next Olympiad will be held in Slovenia in 2012.