WSU Pullman hosting high school linguistics competition

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Washington State University’s Pullman campus is a host site for the initial round of this year’s North American Computational Linguistics Open Competition.

As part of the annual contest, high school students from around the country use their logic skills to work through complex linguistics puzzles, often centered on decoding ciphers. Students who do well in the open round are then eligible to compete in the International Linguistics Olympiad against students from around the world.

A lifelong fascination with languages and puzzle-solving sparked Georgia Colvig’s interest in NACLO. However, the University of Washington was previously the nearest competition site, and the Pullman High School junior was concerned about traveling all the way to Seattle in the middle of winter.

“I thought it would be cool if people in the area who might not be able to travel to UW could participate too,” Colvig said.

She reached out to Nancy Bell, a linguistics professor at WSU Pullman, to see if the university would provide the space to host the opening round of NACLO.

“This is the sort of thing we love doing,” Bell said, noting that WSU’s Department of English has within it a linguistics major program. All we needed was a few proctors for a three-hour chunk of time to conduct the event and a space to host the student competitors.

The competition is slated to run from 9 a.m. – Noon January 25 inside Avery Hall’s Bundy Reading Room. The event is free and open to all high school students, with information on registration available on the NACLO website.

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