Anand Natarajan, Gr. 12, recently won an individual silver medal and helped his team take the silver prize at the sixth International Olympiad in Linguistics (IOL) in Sunny Beach, Bulgaria in early August.
Natarajan was included in one of two teams representing the United States at the event. He was the only Harker student to make U.S. Team 1, taking fourth place in the North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad (NACLO), out of an original pool of nearly 800 participants. He is also a member of Harker’s World Language Club, in which students solve linguistic problems all year-round.
In addition to the U.S., 15 other teams from 10 countries took part in the IOL, including Bulgaria, Germany, Estonia, South Korea, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Slovenia and Sweden.
Geared specifically to high-school students, IOL contestants solve problems related to a wide variety of languages. This year’s contest had students solve problems dealing with Micmac (spoken by Native Americans in Canada), Old Norse, New Caledonia’s Drehu and Cemi languages, southern Mexico’s Copainala Zoque, and Inuktikut (the language of the Canadian Inuit people). A final team exercise dealt with various Chinese dialects. For this contest, students used the same skills utilized by linguistics researchers and scholars.
Awards were given for the best solutions to a single problem, the highest total of the combined scores to each solution, and to the team scoring the most points in the contest. Natarajan received a silver medal for the total accumulation of his scores, and his team’s total score netted them a silver award.
In addition to winning gold, silver and bronze medals in the team and individual contests, the U.S. also received the highest cumulative score. The U.S. won 11 of the 33 awards given at the Olympiad, including two gold medals.