I am a full-stack software developer with a PhD in linguistics. I work on open-source software for digital preservation and linguistic fieldwork, including tools for building finite-state morphological parsers.

I am currently a software developer at Technical Safety BC and a part-time software developer for the Department of Classics Modern Languages and Linguistics at Concordia University. In my linguistic software work, I develop the DativeBase set of tools, in particular Dative and the Online Linguistic Database (OLD), two complementary pieces of software for collaborative language documentation and linguistic fieldwork.

A major component of the OLD is a set of functionality for creating morphological parsers, which is built upon the open source Foma FST library and MIT Language Modeling (MITLM) toolkit. Some of the source files for the Blackfoot morphological parsers that I have built can be found here.


Ph.D., University of British Columbia, 2014. Dissertation: The Online Linguistic Database: Software for Linguistic Fieldwork.

Summer Institute, Linguistic Society of America, Boulder, CO, 2011. Courses in treebanking, statistical syntactic parsing, inference-based semantics, and computational lexical semantics.

B.A., University of British Columbia, 2006. Major in philosophy, minor in linguistics.


Here are some of the software projects that I have authored or am contributing to.

Dative is a single-page browser application that provides a graphical interface to OLD web services. Dative is written in CoffeeScript and Backbone. GitHub source.

The Online Linguistic Database (OLD) is open-source software designed to facilitate collaborative linguistic fieldwork and language documentation. The OLD (written using Python, Pyramid, and Pylons) creates RESTful JSON-speaking web services for manipulating linguistic databases. My PhD dissertation describes the OLD and argues for its value as a tool for linguistic fieldwork. GitHub source.

Archivematica is open-source software for digital preservation. Archivematica (written using Python, Django, and Gearman) is a distributed application that helps archivists to perform preservation actions on digital content and document the resulting metadata in a standards-compliant manner. GitHub source.

LingSync is a free tool for creating and maintaining a shared database for communities, linguists and language learners. LingSync is actually a collection of web services and GUIs. GitHub source, GUI.

The Morphological Parser Creator (MPC) is a program that takes corpora and phonological rewrite rules as input and returns a morphological parser as output. It is designed to interface with a collaborative fieldwork tool like LingSync or the OLD. The MPC is essentially a wrapper around the Foma FST library and the MIT Language Modeling (MITLM) toolkit. The MPC is currently incorporated into the source of the OLD but it will soon be modularized into an independent web service. Some of the source files for Blackfoot phonologies that I have built can be found here.


“Doing Right by their Data: a case study in digital preservation of domain-specific research data” Panel presentation at the Research Data Access & Preservation (RDAP) Summit, Seattle, WA, April 20, 2017.

“COULD Project: Dative & the OLD.” Presentation at the Digging Into Data Challenge Round Three Conference, Glasgow, Scotland, January 28, 2016. (Co-presenter: Alan Bale.)

“LingSync Dative.” Presentation, tutorial and demo at the 46th annual meeting of the North East Linguistics Society (NELS 46), Concordia University (Montréal, Québec), October 16, 2015. Handout.

“LingSync: Software for collaborative linguistic fieldwork.” Presentation at the the Polinsky Language Sciences Lab meeting Harvard Linguistics, May 6, 2015.

“LingSync: Software for collaborative linguistic fieldwork.” Presentation at the Fieldwork Forum, organized by the Department of Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, Apr 2, 2015. Handout.

“LingSync: Software for language documentation.” Presentation at the 4th International Conference on Language Documentation & Conservation (ICLDC 4), Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, Feb 28, 2015. Video slides.

“LingSync Tutorial.” Presentation at the LSA 2015 Annual Meeting, Portland, Oregon, Jan 8, 2015.

“LingSync & the Online Linguistic Database: New Models for the Collection and Management of Data for Language Communities, Linguists and Language Learners.” Presentation at the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL) Annual Meeting, Baltimore, Maryland, June 18, 2014. (With Gina Chiodo.)

“LingSync Tutorial.” Presentation at the “I'd Like to Know More About …” Workshop, organized by the Department of Linguistics, Languages and Cultures and the Language Research Centre at the University of Calgary, November 10, 2014. Video slides.

“Computationally modelling the morphophonology of Blackfoot.” Presentation at the 46th Algonquian Conference, Mohegan Sun Convention Center, Uncasville, Connecticut, October 23-26, 2014.

“Tutorial on LingSync.” Presentation at Exploring the Interfaces 3: Prosody and constituent structure, McGill University, May 8-10, 2014.

“Online Linguistic Database.” Presentation at NWLC 2013: The 29th Northwest Linguistics Conference, the University of British Columbia, April 26-27, 2013.

“Imperfective, Nominalization (& Irrealis) in Okanagan.” Paper presented at SULA 6, University of Manchester, May 5-7, 2011.

“Unifying habituality and progressivity in the imperfective: a Blackfoot case study.” Presentation at CHRONOS 8—International Conference on Tense, Aspect, Mood, and Modality, the University of Texas at Austin, October 2–5, 2008.

“Noun incorporation in Blackfoot.” Paper presented at the 40th Algonquian Conference, the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in Minneapolis, October 24-26, 2008. [M. Barrie & J. Dunham]


Dunham, J., Cook, G., and Horner J. 2014. LingSync & the Online Linguistic Database: New models for the collection and management of data for language communities, linguists and language learners. In Proceedings of the 2014 Workshop on the Use of Computational Methods in the Study of Endangered Languages, pp. 24-33, Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Association for Computational Linguistics.

Dunham, Joel. 2013. The Blackfoot Language Database. In K. S. Hele and J. R. Valentine (Eds.), Papers of the Forty-First Algonquian Conference, Concordia, Montreal, 2009, pp. 75-80.

Dunham, Joel. 2009. Noun Incorporation in Blackfoot. Ph.D. qualifying paper 2, Department of Linguistics, UBC.

Dunham, Joel. 2009. I qwlhí7censa sHenry: Henry’s shoes. In L. Matthewson, C. Christodoulou, J. Lyon & M. A. Oberg (eds.), Wenácw Iz’: Sqwéqwel’s sLaura. True Stories by Laura Thevarge, UBCWPL 22, pp. 31-35. Audio.

Dunham, Joel. 2008. A unified analysis of the habitual and in-progress readings of á in Blackfoot. Ph.D. qualifying paper 1, Department of Linguistics, UBC.

Dunham, Joel. 2007. The ‘durative’ in Blackfoot: understanding imperfectivity. In A.R. Deal (Ed.), SULA 4: Proceedings of the Fourth Conference on the Semantics of Under-represented Languages in the Americas, Amherst: GLSA, pp. 49-64.