Manx Students to Compete at International Linguistics Olympiad

At the end of July four secondary school students from the Isle of Man will be travelling over to Manchester University to compete with students from 30 other countries in the International Linguistics Olympiad.
Held over four days at Manchester University, Erin McNulty and Doona Lambden from the Queen Elizabeth II High School, Byron Slater of St Ninian’s High School and Charlotte Tyler from Ramsey Grammar School have been entered by Bob Teare who heads the Department of Education and Children’s Manx Language Service, with travel kindly sponsored by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.
Mr Teare had previously entered Manx language students from the Queen Elizabeth II High School into the UK Olympiad with Erin (who narrowly missed out on a team place) and Doona both finishing in the top 10 per cent. On the strength of this organisers of the International Olympiad agreed that a team should be entered from the Isle of Man, which will involve some of our top language students solving a range of complex and diverse questions in a bid to secure both individual and team medals.
Mr Teare commented, “If you think that the top linguists in China, Russia, the United States and all those other huge countries will be taking part, the competition will be very tough. Since the first competition in 1965 even the UK has won only a silver medal and a handful of bronzes. It’s a very difficult competition. We are not going to Manchester with huge expectations of winning medals, although we’ll do our best, but it will be a fantastic experience to take part and we’ll be proud to represent the Isle of Man”.
The first linguistic Olympiad for secondary school students took place in Moscow in 1965 on the initiative of Alfred Zhurinsky, a fifth-year student of linguistics who later became a prominent philologist. It was regularly held at the Moscow State University 1965 – 1982 and resumed at what is now the Russian State University for the Humanities in 1988, and is now organised jointly by both institutions.
But the idea has been used by other countries along with the potential for international co-operation in this field.
Valerie Caine
© June 2013