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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. Street names in Denmark are quite challenging for foreigners to pronounce, so we did a little intervention.

Not only a fun interactive experience, WTPh? allows non-Danish speakers to feel slightly more informed and connected to the city. As busy CIID students, there is no time to take extracurricular Danish language courses. This results in occasional embarrassment when we confess to not being able to properly pronounce our school’s street after living here for six months. However, when we do get the word right we feel like locals, like we are part of the city. WTPh? offers foreigners a chance to feel the excitement, connection, and pride of knowing one more thing about the surrounding community they came to experience.

We 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.Max/MSP and Arduino were used to build the installation.




Systems and Layers 2012, Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design with Adam Greenfield and Engin Ayaz.