The National Olympiad in Linguistics.
Upper row: the jury of the International Olympic Iomdin Boris, Ivan Derzhanski, Alexander Berdichevsky, Yelena Muravenko, Moscow team members Lena Hanina, Igor Vinogradov. Bottom row: the team members Medyankin Nikita, Sasha Pipersky.
This year marks forty years since, both in Moscow held the traditional start of competition on linguistics and mathematics for students. Since then, the Olympics beyond the limits of Moscow, and now the Third International Olympiad in Theoretical, Mathematical and Applied Linguistics. The first took place in the Bulgarian resort of Borovets in 2003, the second - in Moscow in 2004 (on both contests at the time wrote to this newspaper), and the third hosted famous for its university and many scientific discoveries of the Dutch city of Leiden.
Olympiad was held from 8 to 12 August. Also Netherlanders, in its organization was attended by representatives of Bulgaria, Latvia, Russia and Estonia. The organizing committee was headed by Michiel de Vahan, assistant professor of comparative linguistics at Leiden University, and an international jury - Professor Alexander Lubotsky, Head of the Department, in its time winner of the Moscow Olympics of traditional (on the initiative of the linguists in the Netherlands since 2001, the National Competition held annually). On the preparation of problems for almost a year worked Zadacha international commission headed by Xenia Gilyarova.
If the First International Olympiad involved eight teams in the third - for thirteen (each team - four schoolchildren). This year, joined by Romania and Finland, where about competitions in linguistics learned recently. Attended by more experienced, Latvia, Estonia and Serbia. Bulgaria, Poland and the Netherlands are also no strangers were represented by two teams each. From the Russian team played in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Olympics are traditionally consists of two competitions. At first, individually, the students solved the five tasks on various phenomena of the five languages: Tzotzil (a Mayan language spoken by Indians in Mexico), Lang (one of vostochnosudanskih languages, almost a million speakers in Uganda), Mansi (Finno-Ugric language spoken in Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug and the Sverdlovsk region), Yoruba (Niger-Congo language family, more than twenty million speakers in Nigeria and neighboring countries) and Lithuanian - or rather, his older states reconstructed by specialists in comparative and historical linguistics . The conditions of all the tasks have been translated into native languages of participants (the translation worked selflessly experts from seven countries). To work on these tasks were given six hours; the vast majority of students frantically finishing solutions at the end of the last minute, when the jury has already brought a stern mouth whistle.
Second, team, competition modeled the work of the field linguist: Students listen to offers in the language of the inhabitants of the oasis Figig in Morocco (one of the Berber language) in the audio recordings, prepared by the well-known expert on the language, the author of a detailed description of its grammar Maarten Kossman of Leiden University. Each team had four hours to develop spelling and perform transfers control proposals. With this most difficult task, many teams have coped brilliantly, demonstrating teamwork and remarkable linguistic intuition.
In his spare time, students participated in a specially prepared culture program: training African dance and music, tours of the canals and museums of Amsterdam and stroll through the streets of the Leyden, where many houses, the walls are inscribed with verses of great poets from different countries, from Horace and Shakespeare to Mandelstam and Lorca (such an amazing project offered local artists, starting it in 1992 with a poem by Marina Tsvetaeva).
And the international jury at this time from morning to night work is scrutinized by students. As a result, six students received certificates and book prizes, 9 -, and 8 accolades - prizes for the best solutions of individual problems. First place with 95 points out of 100, took Ivan Dobrev from Bulgaria, the second - Eleanor Glazov from St. Petersburg (87.5 points). Third place was shared Muscovites (Nikita Medyankin Piperski and Alexander) and Bulgarians (Tsvetomila Mikhailov and Ivailo bunches), and the accolades were awarded to representatives of Moscow, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia and St. Petersburg. On the sum of scores in the individual standings lead a team of Bulgaria (average of - 81 points), followed by a team of Moscow (75 points) and St. Petersburg (65 points). Prizes for the best solutions of individual problems have been awarded the representatives of Bulgaria, Moscow, Netherlands, Poland, Serbia, and Estonia. Note also that the Russian-speaking pupils of twelve prizes were given to seven of all Muscovites (fully met the expectations of the Department of Education in Moscow and the Moscow Center for Continuous Mathematical Education, without whose support the trip to Moscow team would have been impossible), and a two peterburzhenki rizhanka. In the team event, four teams shared the three places: the Netherlands (1st place), Moscow and Bulgaria (2nd place) and St. Petersburg (3rd place). Summary table of results, as well as other information about the competition can be found on her official web site: ilo3.leidenuniv.nl.
Tasks, awards ceremony and closing ceremony of the Olympic Games were held in the main building of Leiden University, where he was once a Catholic monastery is located. In his congratulatory speech, the Rector of the University, famous for its linguistic studies (especially in the field of Slavonic and Baltic Studies) expressed the hope that many of the participants of the Olympiad, "the virus will infect linguistics - and they will be a challenge: for example, will undertake work on the description of one of the endangered languages, or will be engaged in historical linguistics. "
Of course, attracting students to science - one of the main goals of the Olympiad. Several participants have already arrived in the linguistic department and university departments of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Leyden, Lyons, Aberdeen. But there are other goals: expanding and strengthening ties between scholars, teachers, students and pupils from different countries, the rise of interest in linguistics and language education around the world.
The fact that the linguistic problem has attracted considerable interest, including among people far removed from science, speaks eloquently of the curious fact that after the Netherlands newspaper "Handelsblad" published a detailed story about the Olympics, placed in the article one of its objectives, Editors flew indignant letters from readers who try to solve the problem and found a typo in the subject ... committed by a correspondent! By the way, readers of the newspaper "Russian language" will have the opportunity to get acquainted with problems of the Third International Linguistic Olympiad, and the editors will try to avoid typos.
Next, the Fourth International Olympiad in Theoretical, Mathematical and Applied Linguistics should go in the summer of 2006 in the Estonian city of Tartu, whose university is also famous among philologists and linguists all over the world (it is enough to name names Baudouin de Courtenay, Lintsbaha, Lotman). It is hoped that interest in the Olympics, and linguistics to the school as a whole will increase, which will improve its financing (yet many students and even members of the jury had to use their own funds to travel to the Olympics) and to attract new participants from different countries.