Irish student wins bronze medal at International Linguistics Olympiad

Dubliner Luke Gardiner among world’s top problem solvers in Bulgaria

Nineteen year old Luke Gardiner from Gonzaga College, Dublin, clinched a bronze medal at the International Linguistics Olympaid in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria in July 2015.


The international problem-solving contest, which ran from 20th to 24th July, challenges students to test lateral thinking skills by decoding some of the world’s toughest problems in logic, language and linguistics. Gardiner beat off competition from 180 students from 29 countries to bring home a bronze medal.

The top four teenagers from the national All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad, run by the Science Foundation Ireland ADAPT Centre, attended a two-day problem-solving training camp at Dublin City University prior to their departure for Bulgaria.

Gardiner was joined on the team by Shmuel Barron (17) of Sutton Park School, Dublin, Ethan Hamman (18) of Newpark Comprehensive, Dublin, and Niamh Lynch (18) of Loreto College Letterkenny, Donegal.

Dr. Cara Greene of the ADAPT Centre, who led the Irish delegation, said: “I am very proud and excited that Luke Gardiner has won a bronze medal in the International Linguistics Olympiad. This is Ireland’s first medal in seven years competing in the contest. The standard of competition is incredibly high and  nations with a long tradition in the Linguistics Olympiad tend to sweep the medals. This makes Luke’s performance very noteworthy. In fact, all four members of the Irish team performed exceptionally well.“

The students decoded numerals in the Nahuatl language of the Aztec Empire; deciphered Soundex, a phonetic algorithm for indexing names by sound; interpreted ancient Somali poetry; and decrypted sentences from the Wambali language of Australia (spoken by only 89 people worldwide). Knowledge of a second language is not required, as the puzzles are designed to test contestants’ reasoning skills, logic and patience.

Gardiner is studying Mathematics at university this year. He has joined a long line of All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad past participants who are now putting their problem solving ability to good use in STEM-related careers.

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