Linguistic puzzles

Giovanni Machavo, Sports Editor

When we hear the word ‘linguistics’, at first we think about something related to texts, literature, and a lot of writing; however, at NACLO club, (North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad Club) the dynamic is completely different, and all the linguistics part tis not what many people may judge as ‘boring.’

“It is more like math, but in a creative way,” Stephanie Lu, the president of the club, said. “It’s fun math!”

The NACLO club consists of puzzle solving and a lot of logical thinking.

“You don’t need to know anything about the language,” Lu said.  “You can solve the puzzles based on your general knowledge about language and logical thinking.”

The club meetings are usually based on the whole group trying to solve the puzzle of the day, making connections, and looking for patterns in order to decipher the puzzles. Lu believes that the club is not just about puzzle solving, but the process of solving the puzzle teaches the member real life skills.

“So many jobs deal with patterns, so this is taking patterns and creating more meaning to it,” Lu said.

Of course it is not just a puzzle solving club, that wouldn’t justify its name, so what makes the puzzles rather unique, is that all the puzzles are related to different languages.

“It is interesting because it is not just different languages, we can learn about different languages in different periods of time,” Lu said “So we can have something that people don’t speak anymore, but you can still figure out what it means by your knowledge about languages.”

Even though the idea behind the club is very complex, it is 100% made by students, including Lu, and this is the first year of the NACLO club in this school.

“I actually planned on doing Science Olympiad, but then I was thinking ‘it is such a broad category, people should do more career specific sciences’,” Lu said. “And then I was was talking to a friend who does NACLO, she was talking about it, how it’s really fun. And that is how I started to get interested.”

On January this year, the club members are participating of the NACLO competition, with students all across North America participating.

“It has 2 rounds, one is the open, and one is the invitation, and if you go through both, you can do international linguistics olympiad representing either the US or Canada,” Lu said. “Students will study all year, and then they will take this really long test, like four hours long, and depending how you score, you go to the next round.”

Even though, this competition is what the members of the club are preparing for, Lu believes that is not the main point of the club.

“the Club is less about the competition and more about the process throughout the year, learning about all these languages and cultures,” Lu said.

Lu believes that the NACLO activities are more than just puzzles, they teach you more valuable things than logical thinking.

“I think linguistics is also an  important part of history because of the extinct languages,” Lu said. “And knowing that there are other people who think like you, but they think in a different way, like they think through different lens. I think it is interesting how you can show different people’s perspectives.”

“I think it is so interesting to people to try,” Lu said. “It teaches you to take something you know and then figure out something you don’t know, and  And it feels really good when you figure it out.”