Failt / Welcome...

The Isle of Man took part in the International Linguistics Olympiad (IOL) for the first time in Manchester, in 2013. Since then we have competed in Beijing, China (2014), Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria (2015), Mysore, India (2016) and Dublin (2017). This year we will be competing in Prague. Are you ready for a challenge?

What is the International Linguistics Olympiad about?

It's about solving puzzles. You need to be able to spot patterns, and to think about things in unusual ways. You might think of it as a mixture of code breaking and crossword solving - except that the puzzle can be in any language, even ones that you've never heard of, and languages that use different alphabets. The best way to get an understanding of the competition is to take a look at past problems

Will it be a waste of time if I enter, but don't do very well?

Not at all. You will receive a participation certificate at the very least. There are also Gold, Silver and Bronze awards for the top candidates. Participation in this type of competition will be something extra to add to your academic CV. 

Do I need to be able to speak lots of foreign languages?

Of course that would help, but in fact no prior knowledge of linguistics or languages is required. What you actually need is patience, the ability to think logically, and a willingness to think around corners. These are all skills that you need to develop for your future career, whatever path you follow, and all you need even for the hardest problems in the IOL.

Why linguistics?

Click here for the educational rationale behind the study of linguistics. For career applications, consider the opportunities in the fields of; coding, encryption, communication, translation and interpretation, or in fact, any field that requires deep analytical thinking.

How do I enter?

All the secondary schools in the Isle of Man take part. If you can’t find out when or where your school will be sitting the competition paper contact Rob Teare at manxjp£ ( £ = @ ) right away. The competition will take place between the 5th and 9th of Feb, 2018. The first round consists of a 2.5 hour exam paper. We use the same papers as the UK olympiad, try their past problems to get an idea of the type of problems set. The best candidates will be selected to form a team to represent the Isle of Man in the international competition. You may have to pay towards the cost of travel, but we aim to keep the cost of participation affordable. My bare lhiat jannoo yn scrutaght ayns Gaelg cur fys dooin roish toshiaght Toshiaght Arree.

Are there any resources I can use to help me train for selection and international competition?

Yes. The best free resources are the example questions 

The best books available are two collections of problems by Dragomir Radev:

Puzzles in Logic, Languages and Computation: The Red Book (Recreational Linguistics)  

Puzzles in Logic, Languages and Computation: The Green Book (Recreational Linguistics)

The international competition

Each year, teams of young linguists from around the world gather and test their minds against the world's toughest puzzles in language and linguistics. The IOL is one of twelve International Science Olympiads, and has been held annually since 2003.


Contact the organiser, Mr R Teare, at manxjp£ ( £ = @ ) right away.