The International Linguistics Olympiad (IOL) is one of the International Science Olympiads, a contest for high school students where they have to solve complex problems. IOL's problems involve different languages of the world and demand reasoning, linguistic intuition and general knowledge to understand and work with different linguistic phenomena. It is also thought of as the final level of the different National Linguistics Olympiads.

The topics involve different levels of linguistic structures: be it the sounds of the language, the meanings of words and expressions, the grammatical structures, the writing systems and the mental and social dynamics regarding languages. The contest involves solving self-sufficient linguistics problems, where the participant has to analyze data and understand features of an unknown language – based not on proficiency in languages or theoretical knowledge, but rather on one's own analytical, communicational and cultural capacities. If you want to understand better, take a look at the sample problems.

The participants are members of delegations sent by accredited organizations of National Linguistics Olympiads, consisting of one or two teams of four students each, normally the winners of the corresponding national contest. They compete in two rounds: an individual round consisting of five problems to be solved in six hours, and a team round consisting of one larger problem to be solved in three or four hours for the whole team. In the end, the best performances receive medals, trophies and honorable mentions. If you want to understand more, you can start with our FAQ.

The event happens yearly in one of the participating countries, lasting five to seven days, usually at the end of July and beginning of August. In addition to the competitions, students also engage in informal games and plays, academic activities involving linguistics, activities showing the culture and the lands of the host country, as well as gatherings and celebrations to bring the participants together. In addition to the main event among students and delegations, the IOL also promotes activities aiming at bringing tools to local school teachers as well as gatherings aiming at public policies and private initiatives involving education, language and diversity.

IOL 2024

Bem-vindos à IOL 2024!

The 21st edition of IOL is going to happen on July 23-31, 2024, in the city of Brasilia, Brazil – for the first time in the southern hemisphere and in Latin America. If you have some minutes, you can watch our invitation video:

Brazil is known to be formed by a great cauldron of cultures in the last centuries – not peacefully but with fights and superpositions that were translated as powerful and creative cultural expressions. Although its population is largely monolingual, with Portuguese as the official and dominant language, the lands of Brazil still hold a good chunk of the world's linguistic diversity – estimates are around 250 languages spoken in the Brazilian territory.

Also, the social dynamics that modeled the country make it so that Brazil today positions itself as a global focal point for social justice, environmental issues and dialogues among the countries. It is with that spirit that we aim to organize the 21st IOL, reinforcing its social mission of promoting the diversity of languages and cultures, the active and investigative learning and the languages as they are.

More specifically, the olympiad will be hosted in the capital city of Brasilia, lying in the Central Plateau of South America, surrounded by the important biome of Cerrado (the Brazilian savannah) and built as a planned city and a jewel of modernist architecture. The events will be mostly hosted by the University of Brasilia (UnB) and will happen in the center of Brazilian political life.

Starting the third decade of IOL's life, we mean to bring the Linguistics Olympiad more and more to the global south, making it even more multilateral and multicultural.

In a land of fire on the ground and river in the air, inspired by the qualities of the Uiraçu and through the arms of these fighting people with such diverse origins, we offer you all a strong embrace. Welcome!


The logo of IOL 2024 embeds the significance, values and cultural references that we want to bring to IOL in Brazil.

The patterns embedded in the letters are traditionally used in the arts of some of the indigenous cultures of Brazil: the I is from Tupi and the L is from Tukano origin. This choice dialogues with a tradition of the Brazilian Linguistics Olympiad (OBL): each year OBL takes on a different surname using a word from a different language and a visual identity inspired by that culture. In both cases, we want the logo to translate the richness of the diversity of cultures in Brazil and in the world.

The colors are meant to represent Brazilian nature and culture. The green on the I represents the forests that give strength and abundant fruits to the local environment and the people visiting it. The orange on the O, the power of the sun as a significant force for many of the traditional cultures of South America and Africa. The purple on the L represents the color of a very iconic tree, the Purple Ipê (Handroanthus avellanedae), a tree with purple flowers that blossom at the end of the winter (July-August) and is a symbol of the host city, Brasília. The dark red that gives contour to each letter is the color of urucum, a traditional pigment for many indigenous cultures in Brazil.

The central figure in the sun-shaped O, and the animal spirit for IOL 2024, is the Uiraçu or Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja), the apex raptor bird of the forests of Central and South America. Often called the jaguar of the skies, the Uiraçu's wide view, strength and precision in action are inspirations for the process of opening the minds of participants and making them fly to the heights of human thought and culture.

It is worth remembering that the IOL acronym is deliberately chosen not to represent the name of the Olympiad in English or any of the participating languages, instead being equally valid to name the event in all languages.