Posted: 10/04/17

Eight secondary school students will be representing Ireland in the International Linguistics Olympiad (IOL) this July in Dublin.  The students from across Ireland beat off competition from over 4,000 opponents in this year’s All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad (AILO) and will form two teams at the international competition this summer.  The results were recently announced by the organisers of the competition, the ADAPT Centre for Digital Content Technology, whose aim is to inspire the next generation of problem-solvers who possess a combination of logic and language competency skills.

Students from across Ireland vied to get selected to test their language decoding skills against the world’s best at the IOL taking place in Dublin this July.  Having made it to the finals of the All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad (AILO) in March, which saw the top 100 students out of a starting line up of over 4,000 opponents compete to reach the international finals, the eight winners will now compete against students from 32 other countries for the international title. 

Competitors are challenged to engage in ‘code-breaking’ tests to unlock information in unfamiliar languages.  No prior knowledge of a second language is needed with competitors required to use logical reasoning and out-of-the-box thinking to solve the problems presented.  One puzzle challenges the students to decode Old Norse Runes, the language of the Vikings.  Spoken in Scandinavia from the 700s to the 1300s, Old Norse was the ancestor of the Icelandic, Norwegian, Danish and Swedish languages and was written in a runic alphabet. 

Speaking about the competition, Professor Vincent Wade, Director of the ADAPT Centre said: “The All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad puzzles are a mix of maths, science and humanities.  The increasing popularity of the competition highlights the Irish public’s interest and appreciation for the importance and applicability of problem-solving skills across science, the economy and society.  We are looking forward to hosting the IOL this summer and running a free, family-friendly problem-solving festival in Dublin Castle on 5th August open to all.”

The Irish finalists who will be taking part in the International Linguistics Olympiad (IOL) are Philip Krause from Ashton, Blackrock Co Cork, Eimear Kyle from St Finian’s College Mullingar Co Westmeath, Marco Stango from Newtown School Co Waterford, Tom McAlinden from Aquinas Grammar Belfast, Padraig Sheehy from Gonzaga College Co Dublin, Tristan l’Anson-Sparks from Methodist College Belfast, Cian O’Hara from Holy Family Community School Rathcoole Co Dublin and Daniel Quigley from Belfast Royal Academy Belfast.

Run by the Science Foundation Ireland funded ADAPT Centre, AILO aims to inspire the next generation of multilingual technology graduates, who possess a combination of language competency and problem-solving expertise.  Participants in AILO 2017 received tuition from experts at the ADAPT Centre, a €130M academia-industry research centre developing advanced technology to adapt and personalise digital content and services to the needs of global users.  Participants in AILO 2017 received tuition from experts at ADAPT and the winners will receive further tuition before the finals this summer.

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