Kia ora, my name is Joshua Wilson Black. I am a lecturer at the New Zealand Institute of Language, Brain and Behaviour.

My research crosses linguistics, philosophy, and digital humanities. I am particularly interested in the use of large corpora to understand sign usage in many varieties and across a range of temporal scales using contempoary statistical methods. In all my work I try to live up to ‘open science’ principles.


‘Wilson Black’ is my surname. Sometimes I am incorrectly cited as ‘Black, Joshua Wilson’. This is unfortunate but unavoidable! I also have a handful of earlier (pre-marriage) publications under the name ‘Black’. To make matters even more confusing, I have occasionally thrown my middle name (‘David’) in to the mix.

My current research interests include:

  • the quantitative identification of clusters of co-varying phonetic variables in the ONZE and QuakeBox corpora of New Zealand English, and
  • identifying participants and themes in intellectual life in digitised historical newspapers.

From 2024, I am teaching a series of workshops on R, statistics, and open science methods. These are targeted at advanced students and NZILBB-affiliated researchers, but are open to all. The materials for the workshops are available here and are constantly evolving. I’m very happy to receive any feedback on these materials.

My PhD was in philosophy and centred on the work of Charles Peirce and this remains a significant interest. My non-standard introduction to statistics came through trying to understand how statistical ideas functioned in Peirce’s metaphysics and philosophy of science. I have since updated my statistical and computational knowledge with a graduate degree in data science. Nonetheless, both the ‘what’ of my research — the quantitative investigation of sign use — and the ‘how’ — open science practices — remain Peircean in spirit.

Academic Employment

2024 - | Lecturer | University of Canterbury

2021 - 2024 | Post Doctoral Fellow | University of Canterbury

2014 - 2018 | Graduate Teaching Assistant | University of Sheffield


2021 | Master of Applied Data Science (with Distinction) | University of Canterbury

2017 | Doctor of Philosophy | University of Sheffield

2013 | Master of Arts | University of Waikato

2012 | Bachelor of Science with Honours (First Class) | University of Canterbury

2011 | Bachelor of Science | University of Canterbury

2011 | Bachelor of Arts | University of Canterbury