First of all, I don't use iCloud for my address book on my iPhone 4S; instead, I sync my Gmail contacts (and mail and calendars) using the "Exchange" account type. ("Gmail" accounts don't sync contacts, so I have to connect via Exchange.)

This is all fine and dandy, except Siri pronounces my wife's last name (my last name) incorrectly, and it's driving me crazy.

I've read every article on the web that I can find about phonetic pronunciation and Siri. Most articles seem to imply that adding a phonetic first or last name will correct Siri's pronunciation (though often people complain in the comments that it doesn't work for them). It doesn't work for me either, and I think I finally may have figured out why, but I'm wondering if anyone can verify this and/or shed some light on how to fix it.

Siri seems to obey phonetic pronunciation for iCloud contacts, but not for Exchange contacts. Oddly, I've gotten Siri to momentarily use the correct phonetic pronunciation for an Exchange contact, only to immediately revert on second try -- perhaps a result of syncing with Exchange/Gmail?

Has anyone else had this experience? Does anyone know of a workaround?

  • I think I read somewhere that you could write the name phonetically in the nickname field instead of the phonetic field but I'm not able to test it. Perhaps worth trying?
    – Lizzan
    Commented Nov 13, 2011 at 11:44
  • If you are just worried about a few contacts, can you just add them to the iCloud contacts?
    – nohillside
    Commented Nov 13, 2011 at 16:07

1 Answer 1


You can create iCloud contacts that merge with your GMail contacts. The iPhone will collate the data from both the GMail contact and the iCloud contact. I have this enabled for Hotmail:

Merged contacts

  1. Enabled iCloud syncing for contacts.
  2. Open Contacts.
  3. Press the back button (top-left) until you reach Groups.
  4. Open All iCloud or All from My PC.
  5. Create a new contact for your wife. Include her full name and phonetic name.
  6. Press Done.
  7. Scroll down and check that Linked Cards shows an entry for Unified and GMail. Press Unified.
  8. Now you can see how your wife's information combining the GMail information and the iCloud phonetic information.
  • 1
    Thanks for your response! It took me a while to get back to this and try it out. This is great information for linking accounts -- I had no idea, so this is very useful in and of itself -- but unfortunately, Siri is still mispronouncing names, even with linked accounts where the iCloud uses phonetic pronunciation and the Exchange account doesn't. Can you verify that Siri actually says a name differently on your phone with a linked account? I'm wondering if I'm still missing some little thing, this seems like it should work...
    – Michael
    Commented Nov 20, 2011 at 16:33
  • I only have an iPhone 4, unfortunately. What if you type something completely different in the Phonetic fields? For example, if you name is "Smith", write "Jones". If this works, then maybe you just need to work out how to spell your name phonetically. Commented Nov 20, 2011 at 23:10
  • I actually tried that, but unfortunately that didn't work either. I do have one last idea: Perhaps if I delete all of my Gmail contacts and create the iCloud contact first (with phonetic pronunciation), and then afterward sync Gmail and link accounts the way you proposed, maybe that will work. Don't have time to test it at the moment, but I'll give it a shot sometime over the next few days and report back.
    – Michael
    Commented Nov 21, 2011 at 17:02
  • Before you go that far, try adding your wife's phone numbers to the iCloud contact, exactly as they're presented in the Gmail contact. It's duplication of information, but it might take that to link the number to the phonetic spelling. Commented Nov 21, 2011 at 21:55

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