The text-to-speech function on Mac OS X Lion is quite good, although sometimes it misses the just-right pronunciation of a word.

Is there a way to specify a pronunciation for certain words or phrases in Lion?

For example, let's say my friend's name is "Tony", and the voice for OS X (Alex) pronounces Tony "tooney". Is there a way that I can set Tony to be pronounced the same way Alex pronounces "Toe Nee"?

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    Type it phonetically? – Ian C. Mar 29 '12 at 1:20

Open Applications > Services > VoiceOver Utility and go to Speech > Pronunciation. Add a subsitution for "Tony" and tell it to pronounce it as "toe nee".

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Interestingly, my computer running 10.7.3 with the Alex voice pronounces Tony correctly. Because of this, I wasn't able to test this solution, so it may not work.

  • Brilliant, exactly what I was looking for. My computer pronounces it fine too, just using that as an example. Cheers! – element119 Mar 29 '12 at 4:37
  • Ah, I missed that somehow. There's also some hidden app somewhere I was just using to manipulate the exact phonetics of words, and I'm really annoyed that I can't find it anywhere! – Tuesday Mar 29 '12 at 11:44
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    This doesn't seem to work for the terminal. Try running "say tony" in the terminal, and you wont get your new pronunciation.... and ideas on how to make this happen? – Brad Parks Jun 14 '12 at 22:02
  • This is a great answer. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to work. Is there something I am missing? Some command to set my changes? I tried closing applications and reopening them, then I tried restarting the computer, but it has no effect. (I am running OSX 10.8.5 on my Mac.) – user97473 Oct 24 '14 at 22:37
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    The voice over utility only impacts how voice over service handles pronunciations, it unfortunately does not affect the text-to-speech service (including the say command in terminal) – Tadhg McDonald-Jensen Sep 22 '16 at 21:04

You can also use [[inpt PHON]]:

 [[inpt PHON]]_t1OW ~n2EY.[[inpt TEXT]]

See the Speech Synthesis Programming Guide.

If you download the Auxiliary Tools for Xcode package from https://developer.apple.com/downloads, you can use the Repeat After Me application to convert text to the phonetic syntax:

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