Bringing home bronze from Bulgaria

Four students represented Ireland in the international Linguistics Olympaid in Bulgaria last week.

A Dublin student successfully attained a bronze medal at the 13th International Linguistics Olympaid in Bulgaria last week.

Luke Gardiner, a student at Gonzaga College Dublin, was among the four second-level students from Dublin and Donegal who were chosen to represent Ireland in the Olympiad in Blangoevgrad, Bulgaria.

The students were awarded their place in the international competition after finishing ahead of 120 opponents in the All-Ireland Linguistics Olympiad Finals which were held in DCU in March.

Gardiner secured third place in the competition up against 180 students. 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,” Greene continued.

The international problem-solving contest which ran from 20 to 24 July, puts the problem-solving abilities of second-level students from all over the world to the test. The competition sees second-level students from 28 countries aim to solve some of the worlds toughest problems in logic, language and linguistics.

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 DCU prior to their departure for Bulgaria.

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

Some of the problems tackled in the Olympiad were written in 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).The puzzles are designed to test contestants’ reasoning skills, logic and patience, rather than knowledge of second or even third languages.

Gardiner is planning to study Mathematics at university next year. He will join 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.

Áine Marie Monk

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