Erik Andersen, grade 12, helped one of the United States teams win first place at the International Linguistics Olympiad in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Andersen, who heads the Harker Language and Linguistics Club, also won a bronze medal for himself in the individual competition. Nearly 30 countries sent teams to the Olympiad, which had a total of 131 contestants.
Each team was required to translate the name of a country written in Lao, the official language of Laos. Contestants were also asked to guess how the countries’ Lao names would be pronounced. Competitors in the individual competitions solved problems that dealt with the Dyirbal, spoken by Australian Aborigines in northeast Queensland, the Umbu-Ungu and Teop languages of Papua New Guinea, Basque and the language of the Rotuman people of the Colony of Fiji.
Anderson qualified for the team after being one of the top 18 students to participate in this year’s North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad (NACLO), in which he received an award for having the best solution to a problem dealing with the Aboriginal Australian Wanyi language. Approximately 1,000 students participate in the NACLO each year.