Tips to Make Siri Read Better Than It Can Listen


Tips to Make Siri Read Better Than It Can Listen


Getting Siri to pronounce complex or foreign-sounding names can be a challenge. Why? Because the way Siri decides how to pronounce proprietary names depends on the system language of your device. In the United States and other English-speaking regions, Siri's pronunciation is governed by the rules of English phonetics. When Siri encounters a name, such as Vito Corleone from Italy, or Xiaoyan Zhou from China, it may need help to pronounce it accurately.


I recently learned that there is a way for Siri to accurately pronounce every syllable of every name in your contact list - but you have to type the instructions, instead of telling Siri how to pronounce them.



Siri education begins with the Contacts app on your iPhone or iPad. To correct incorrect Siri pronunciations, select the name in question. On that pane, click the Edit button in the upper right corner of the screen. This will open a new pane, then click on the Add field line. There you will find pronunciation and voice help for the first, middle, and last name. To train Siri, select the name of the voice you want to correct (if Siri gets one name badly wrong, you can choose to change all three). You can even tell Siri that it mispronounced a name and it will take you to the pronunciation page.



To test the Vito Corleone example, I chose the Phonetic last name and used the field to type the pronunciation as closely as I could and then tapped Done. It took a few tries, but I finally got Siri to pronounce The Godfather’s name correctly, as opposed to saying “Cor-leon” (three syllables instead of four) or “Corleon-a” (four syllables but the wrong vowel at the end).


Don't be afraid to type a different version until Siri is correct. Test the results by asking Siri for information about the person so Siri is forced to repeat the person's name. You can even tell Siri that a name is mispronounced and it will prompt you to add a voice description in Contacts.


What's the difference between voice prompts and pronunciation prompts? There is not much in terms of operation. Phonetic is the preferred choice because it automatically places names in the correct alphabetical order.

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