MTSU– Speaking one language is hard enough, but at the eleventh annual Linguistics Olympiad at Middle Tennessee State University, students had to put their brains to the test and solve problems in an assortment of different languages.


Over 60 students from all across Middle Tennessee made the trek to compete in the Linguistics competition; however, there were far less people enrolled this year than in years past. The reason for the low attendance, according to the creator of the Linguistics Olympiad, Aleka Blackwell, was the fact that many schools were on spring break and others were at another science competition.

But, the numbers didn’t get Blackwell down and the linguistic competition still went forward like it would any other year.


What exactly do they do in a linguistics competition you might ask?  According to Battle Ground Academy Latin teacher Abram Ring, the students have to use their brainpower to take a test.

“It’s puzzle solving. So a lot of the kids that get into the linguistics competitions like logic puzzles, riddles and they like Rubik’s cube,” Ring explains.

The test was made up of more than 12 pages of puzzles and foreign language that needed to be decoded; however, this is something that excited Englewood student Alyssa Kirksey.

“It makes my brain think, which makes me feel smart when my brain thinks,” Kirksey exclaimed.


However, Blackwell says this competition wasn’t just about puzzles, but rather looking at the world in a new way and thinking outside the box.

The competition was still a competition, though, especially for those who came to the event vying for an award.

The competition was divided into middle school and high school, although the questions on the test were all the same. The students were also allowed to work together in groups or compete individually.

Each category receives a different set of awards and medals for those who placed, but for some of those in attendance, like Providence Christian Academy student John Dempsey, the prize medal wasn’t something to stress out about.

“The medal doesn’t really matter,” Dempsey explained. “I mean, this is like my first time… so I mean I’m not that nervous.”

Medal or no medal, the competition alone might spark something inside a young mind. Blackwell revealed that one of the students who participated and placed in the very first Linguistics competition in 2007 went on to attend Ohio State University and get a master’s degree in linguistics.

While this competition has went on for ten years now, Blackwell says that there will be a Linguistics Olympiad as long as teachers keep bringing their students to the competition.