Photo: Joanne Haner

Students decipher linguistics problems at annual olympiad

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Deciphering dead languages and secret war codes are some of the common practices in Heritage’s Linguistics group. Fifteen students took the North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad (NACLO) Thurs. Jan. 25 in lab 1 of the 4500 building.

Seven years ago, AP World History and AP European History teacher Marjorie Milam agreed to sponsor a group of students who wanted to compete in NACLO; however, sponsorship changed hands last year to English teacher Ms. Deidra Lovegren. The current president is senior Fernando Rivera.

Participants from various high schools and universities across North America solve linguistic puzzles created by professionals in the field. Students answered a total of 8 sections in the time allotted, and the top 10% of scorers moved on to the next round. The club convenes every other Monday, but members individually practice for the Olympiad through the NACLO website. The competition is sponsored by a variety of universities, including the University of Michigan, Princeton University, University of Chicago and Yale University.

The test can include languages such as Danish and Swedish or languages that have not been natively spoken for over 5,000 years, such as Indus River Valley tongues from South East Asia.

This experience can open doors to jobs in the government and computer software companies, both of which search for people with specific deciphering skills. No previous knowledge or studied languages are necessary to join. For more information, reach out to Ms. Lovegren by email,

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