What the Phonics? Interactive pronunciation for non-Danes

May 7, 2014 5:56 pm

What the PhonicsCompiled by Claus Skovbjerg, MA, stagiaire communicateur at TermCoord

WTPh? – (What the Phonics?) is an interactive installation that pronounces street names in Copenhagen.

Danish is a notoriously non-phonetic language, where what is written is very different from how it is read. Thus street names in Denmark are close to impossible for foreigners to pronounce. After living in Copenhagen for six months and still struggling to properly pronounce their school’s street name, a couple of students from the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (CIID) came up with the idea to invent a so-called WTPh? – (What the Phonics?).

They recorded a Dane pronouncing the street names then split up the word into syllables; lights are placed above the matching syllable so that in real-time, you can see which part of the word is being spoken. When participants lift the speaker off the wall, it starts playing.

Listening to the WTPh? allows non-Danish speakers to get street names right thus making them feel more like locals, as if they are really a part of the city. Not only a fun interactive experience, the WTPh? offers foreigners a chance to feel that excitement, connection, and pride of knowing one more thing about the surrounding community they want to experience.

Danish pronunciation:

Danish phonology

Omniglot: Danish

Pronunciation guide – Danish

Danish pronunciation guide

Speak Danish

Pronunciation: The very rough guide to Danish


Read more about the WTPh? – project in different languages:

EN: WTPh? What the phonics: Broken City Lab

EN: What the phonics? Marzipan and Marmite

EN: What the Phonics? Helps Non-Dutch Speaking Tourists Navigate the Streets of Copenhagen | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

EN: Talking Street Signs Help Tourists Pronounce Danish Street Names – PSFK

EN: WebUrbanist: What the Phonics? Device Pronounces Street Names

ES: Adictivox – Digitalizando ideasInstalación interactiva enseña a turistas a pronunciar nombres de calles en Dinamarca

FI: Mitä ihmettä – Kööpenhaminassa katukyltit osaavat puhua

RU: Названия улиц — по слогам | Keep it local



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