Need Help Pronouncing Street Names?
A couple of students at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design came up with a clever project: helping foreigners learn how to pronounce local street names by hooking up street signs with some electronics that play audio recordings of the tricky Danish words. But why should expats in Denmark have all the fun? Could the same be done in the English-speaking world?
The students, Andrew Spitz and Momo Miyazaki, made a video of their design project, which they call "WTPh? (What the Phonics)":
On Language Log, a commenter suggested that the same type of assistance could be given for street names in the United States, such as Houston Street in New York City, Devon Avenue in Chicago, or Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis. In such cases, wayward pronunciation can often quickly mark you as an outsider. For example, the New York street is pronounced HOUSE-ton, not HYOOS-ton.
In New York, in fact, you can actually hear pronunciations of street names via "accessible pedestrian signals," placed at some intersections to help those with impaired sight cross the street. As the New York Times reported recently, the pronunciations are quite local indeed, as they have been recorded by Dennis Ferrara, a Brooklynite who works for the city's Transportation Department.
Are there street names where you live that are tricky for non-locals to pronounce?