Fun Problems

Here you will find a collection of Fun Problems ranging from Easy to Tough

Sheep Scoring
Below are Sheep Scoring numbers* from Millom, Cumbria in Northern England.
The numerals and their values are in RANDOM order.

15 aina-bumfit
1 para-dig
16 bumfit
2 aina-dig
10 aina
11 dig
14 peina
Find the value of peina-bumfit.

*Sheep Scoring numbers were used by shepherds to count sheep, by children to play games and by ladies to count knitting stitches!

Simte* Verbs
Below are some verb phrases from the Simte language. Loosely translated, all the verbs mean "to wear" in English. But the Simte people use each verb in a specific way with particular objects.

puannah silh = to wear shirt;
toka teng = to wear pants;
kengtophah but = to wear shoes.

If, 'silh', 'teng' and 'but', all mean 'to wear/to put on'

Then find out which verb is used for the following:
1) puanzaal (shawl) 2) kengmoija (socks) 3) puan (dress)
4) khutphaw (gloves) 5) zaanpuan (blanket) 6) niih-siing (skirt)

*Simte is a language of the Kuki-Chin clan from the Tibeto-Burman group and is primarily spoken in Manipur in North East India.

Meena and Sunanda are teachers while Ram and Shyam are students. The following are dialogues amongst the four in Maithili with their English translations.

Meena to Ram: Ham tora ganit padhay chiyo.
I am teaching you mathematics.

Sunanda to Shyam: Meena toraa ganit padhay chathun.
Meena is teaching you mathematics.

Meena to Shyam: Ram toraa dekhay cho.
Ram is looking at you.

Sunanda to Meena: Shyam ahaka dekhay ya.
Shyam is looking at you.

Ram to Meena: Ham ahaka sunay chi.
I am listening to you.

Shyam to Meena: Sunanda ahaka sunay chayt.
Sunanda is listening to you.

1. Identify the person to whom the following statements are addressed-
- Meena ahaka dekhay chayt.
- Shyam toraa sunay cho

2. Translate the following sentences into English-
- Ram ahaka ganit padhay ya
- Ram ahaka ganit padhay ya

3. Translate the following sentences into Maithili.
- Sunanda is looking at you.
- Shyam: I am teaching you mathematics.
(Hint: Each sentence will have two translations.)

*Maithili is an Indo-Aryan language spoken in the Mithila region of eastern Nepal and northern India, having over 35 million native speakers.

Sample Problems and Solutions

1. Swahili - Ivan Derzhanski and Thomas Payne

Six dates are given in Swahili, along with their translations in random order.

Assignment 1. Match each Swahili date with its proper translation.

Swahili date
1. tarehe tatu Disemba Jumamosi
2. tarehe tano Oktoba Jumapili
3. tarehe pili Aprili Jumanne
4. tarehe tano Oktoba Jumatatu
5. tarehe nne Aprili Jumanne
6. tarehe tano Oktoba Jumatano

English Translation
A. Monday, October 5th
B. Tuesday, April 2nd
C. Wednesday, October 5th
D. Tuesday, April 4th
E. Sunday, October 5th
F. Saturday, December 3rd

Assignment 2. Translate the following additional dates into Swahili:

Wednesday, April 3rd
Sunday, December 2nd

2. Czech - Mirjam Fried

Czech is the official language of the Czech Republic, the western two thirds of the former Czechoslovakia. It is spoken by about nine and a half million people and belongs to the western branch of Slavic languages.
The following are examples of how to say in Czech what time it is:

'five minutes to eight'
'ten minutes to eight'
'quarter after seven'
'seven minutes to eight'
'seven minutes after seven'
'five minutes after six'
'half past seven'
'half past eight'
'twenty minutes after five'
'quarter after nine'

Za pet minut osm.
Za deset minut osm.
Ctvrt na osm.
Za sedm minut osm.
Za osm minut ctvt na osm.
Za deset minut ctvrt na sedm.
Pul osme.
Pul devate.
Za deset minut pul seste.
Ctvrt na deset.

How would you say the following in Czech?

'23 minutes after five'
'10 minutes after nine'

Solutions to Sample Problems

Here are the solutions to our Sample problems:

1. Swahili
1. F. Saturday, December 3rd
2. E. Sunday, October 5th
3. B. Tuesday, April 2nd
4. A. Monday, October, 5th
5. D. Tuesday, October 4th
6. C. Wednesday, October 5th

Wednesday, April 3rd - tarehe tatu Aprili Jumatano
Sunday, December 2nd - tarehe pili Disemba Jumapili

2. Czech
'23 minutes after five' - Za sedm minut pul seste
'10 minutes after nine' - Za pet minut ctvrt na deset

Training Material

Check out the training material for the Linguistics Olympiad prepared by one of our ex-participants.

View Training Material