Silver lining for Perse student at International Linguistics Olympiad

Toby Collins (Upper Sixth) demonstrated a successful way with words representing the UK at the International Linguistics Olympiad (IOL) on the Isle of Man.

He collected silver in the individual competition having attempted to solve problems focusing on the structures of obscure languages, such as the Native American Alabama, the Australian aboriginal Arabana and the extinct Ubykh, during a six-hour test.

Toby also helped the UK team to bronze in the team event as they tackled a five-hour exam involving a series of tough questions based on the little-used Manchu language of north-east China.

It was the second consecutive year that Toby had taken part in the IOL, having claimed individual bronze in the 2021 edition, which was held online due to the Covid pandemic.

Toby gained selection for the eight-strong national squad once more after impressing in a training camp at the University of Warwick, having performed exceptionally well in the first two online rounds of the UK Linguistics Olympiad.

He was elated to have done so well in both the individual and team competitions and thoroughly enjoyed being able to take part in the IOL in person.

Toby said: “It was a fantastic experience, meeting many like-minded students from all around the world and getting exposure to a range of different cultures.

“The most interesting problem of this year’s contest was about how the pronunciation of words changes with time, while the hardest problem involved decomposing the meaning and structure of verbs. Many questions require you to think outside the box.

“Aside from the competition, there were many social opportunities and cultural excursions, including a Manx concert and an evening of Celtic dance.

“The Linguistics Olympiad was a fantastic opportunity to make friends with people from all over the globe, with more than 150 students attending from over 30 different countries. The whole event was amazing and I learned so much from the training and competition.”


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