NACLO 2021 — North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad

The open round of this year’s NACLO competition will take place on January 28, 2021! Make sure to register at the official site!

What is NACLO?

Are you a high school student with a knack for languages, logic and computational thinking? Would you like to try your hand at deciphering an ancient script or deducing the logical patterns of Swahili or Hawaiian?

NACLO stands for the North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad. It is a contest for high-school (and younger) students to solve linguistics problems drawn from a variety of languages. Only logic and reasoning skills are necessary; no prior knowledge of particular languages or of linguistics is required.

This year, due to COVID-19, Ohio State University will be unable to run NACLO in person. However, you can compete in NACLO at home by registering at the national site.

The open round of the contest will take place on Thursday, January 28, 2021. Well-performing students will be invited to a second round (date TBA). The top students in the invitational round will have a chance to participate in the International Linguistics Olympiad in the summer. More information about NACLO can be found at the national NACLO site.

Registration

Participation is free. Students who are interested in can register at the NACLO registration site. Register early to be assured of a seat. Registrations will still be accepted, provided that space is available, up until Thursday, January 28.

What can OSU do for me?

Although you cannot take part in NACLO at OSU, members of the Linguistics department would be pleased to support your NACLO club, team or study session! We can arrange a Zoom meeting with a member of our faculty or staff to show you how to solve NACLO problems from past years, answer your questions about the study of language, or talk to you about careers in computational linguistics. Contact elsner.14@osu.edu.

Sample question

Abma is an Austronesian language spoken in parts of the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu by around 8,000 people. Carefully study these Abma sentences, then answer the following questions. Note that there is no separate word for the or he in these Abma sentences.

  • Mwamni sileng. (He drinks water.)
  • Nutsu mwatbo mwamni sileng. (The child keeps drinking water.)
  • Mwerava Mabontare mwisib. (He pulls Mabontare down.)
  • Mabontare mwisib. (Mabontare goes down.)
  • Mweselkani tela mwesak. (He carries the axe up.)
  • Mwelebte sileng mwabma. (He brings water.)
  • Mabontare mworob mwesak. (Mabontare runs up.)
  • Sileng mworob. (The water runs.)
  • sesesrakan (teacher)

Use the above information to translate the following sentence:

  • The teacher carries the water down.

If you came up with Sesesrakan mweselkani sileng mwisib, this is the competition for you!

More sample questions for practice are available here.

Local organizers

Please contact us if you have questions at: naclo@DELETETHISFORTHEREALADDRESS.ling.osu.edu

Ohio State’s hosting activities are sponsored by the Department of Linguistics and the Department of Computer Science & Engineering, the Student Linguistic Association and the OSU chapter of the Association of Computing Machinery Committee on Women.