NACLO at Yale

Are you a 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? If so, then you should participate in NACLO!

What is NACLO?

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

This year Yale University will serve as a local site for NACLO, so this means that you will be able to participate in the competition in New Haven. In the spring of 2019 there were two rounds of contests: a first (Open) round, and a second (Invitational) round for the students who performed well in the Open round. Before both rounds, Yale University will hold training sessions that all are welcome to attend.

Check back later for more information on the training sessions and contest registration.

Sample question: Cat and Mouse Story

“Okay, so my cat pombled gwee the trowby, and she pombled gwee the foba. She pombled ippip the foba and pombled gorch the foba, and eventually she pombled ippip the trowby.”

Your friend has apparently joined some strange new subculture and is trying out the slang. Either that or he hit his head. Whatever the cause, it looks like your friend has replaced the words down, into, up, run, mouse, and street with the words gwee, ippip, trowby, foba, pomble, and gorch. You can’t yet tell which is which, so you have this conversation:

You: So, it started off with the cat pombling the trowby gwee.
Him: That’s nonsense; that’s not even a good sentence.
You: Could I say “The cat pombled the foba gwee?”
Him: That’s just as bad.
You: It was gwee the foba that the cat pombled, right?
Him: Correct.
You: Then the cat pombled gorch the foba and ippip the foba.
Him: Yes.
You: And the cat pombled gorch the foba and ippip the trowby?
Him: You’re talking nonsense again.
You: But it was ippip the trowby that the cat pombled?
Him: You don’t know how to use words, do you?
You: The cat pombled the trowby ippip.
Him: That sounds a lot better.

What do the following words mean? Context clues are useful to give you hints, but to prove which words mean which, you should also use your friend’s judgments about your attempted sentences.


Visit the NACLO website to find the answers and more practice questions.