100 young linguistic problem-solvers competed at the national finals of the All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad (AILO) in ADAPT at Dublin City University (DCU) on Wednesday 1st March 2023. Run by ADAPT, the world-leading SFI Research Centre for AI-Driven Digital Content Technology, the contest challenges secondary school students to apply logic and reasoning skills to solve complex puzzles in unfamiliar languages.
This year’s AILO Champion is Naoise Sheridan (17) from Tullamore College, Offaly who has earned a place representing Ireland at the 20th anniversary International Linguistics Olympiad (IOL) in Bansko, Bulgaria in July 2023. Joining Naoise on the international team are Finn Wallace (17) from CBC Monkstown, Dublin (who was on the team in 2022), Paddy Clancy (17) from St Vincent’s Castleknock, Dublin and Megan Boland (17) from Ursuline Secondary School, Thurles, Tipperary. Megan was previously Junior Champion in 2021.
The 2023 Junior Champion is Michael Costello (15) from St Kilian’s Deutsche Schule. Second place Junior went to Gráinne Scott (15) from Presentation Community College Terenure. Daniel Scally (15) and Oisín Sheridan (15) from Tullamore College got third place and fourth place Junior. The team competition in the afternoon was won by St Kilian’s Deutsche Schule in Dublin.
The 100 national finalists, from 49 schools in 21 counties, had come through preliminary rounds held in schools all over the island in January. More than 3,500 students registered for this year’s contest. Competing in individual and team rounds, the finalists are faced with anything from deciphering ancient Norse scripts about Thor to working out unusual counting systems such as Bukiyip where there are two counting systems, depending on what you are counting!
The AILO finals see teenagers solve puzzles that require lateral thinking skills and the ability to think outside the box. Students must analyse the language data they are given to work out the ‘rules’ of the new language. These transferable skills are critical in preparing young people for a wide range of careers in computing, linguistics and language.
Sample puzzles from the Olympiad can be downloaded at http://tempailo.adaptcentre.ie/sample-puzzles/