Teach Siri How To Pronounce Tricky Names [iOS Tips]

Pronounce

I’ve grown up with this last name, so I’m fairly used to people butchering it. I’m surprised at the amazing number of pronunciations given to my last name over the past several decades, with people adding all sorts of weird consonants that just aren’t there.

Siri isn’t much different, though she does manage to say my name phonetically, but my family doesn’t say “Luh-Feb- Vree.” We say, “Luh-Fay” with an accent on the second syllable.

Turns out, it’s easier than you’d think to teach Siri how to say names correctly.

I launched Siri, and said, “Pronounce my name” which made Siri bring up my contact information. She pronounced my name incorrectly here.

Then, I tapped the little microphone icon at the bottom and said, “That’s not how you pronounce that.”

Siri said, “OK, how do you pronounce the name (Rob)? I pronounced it in the usual way, and Siri gave me a couple of different audio examples of how she would pronounce it, and I hit Select next to the one that sounded the best.

Next, she asked, “OK, how do you pronounce the name (LeFebvre)?” I pronounced it correctly, as Luh-FAY. She gave me three pronunciation options, one of which was the old Luh-Feb-Vree option, but there was one that sounded right. I tapped Select next to that option.

Siri thanked me, saying, “Great, I’ll pronounce it ‘Rob LeFebvre’ from now on.” And she has.

Related
  • martinbouch

    Thanks for the great tip. As a french native, I’m having a hard time with many names in my address book (my iPhone is in English). What surprises me is how you pronounce your name. This is definitely french origin and the original way is “”luh-FEVR”

  • InheritTheLand

    This is great, as my wife’s name has an unconventional spelling.

  • lwdesign1

    I tried to correct the pronunciation of a friend’s name in Siri. When I told her “that’s not how you pronounce that” she responded that it was a matter of opinion, and I couldn’t get her to change it. Is there a specific way of altering Siri’s pronunciations of other names than my own?
    My friend’s name is Ali Shaw, which Siri insists on pronouncing “Olly Shaw”. There are several other uncommon names in my contacts list that I’d also like to change or improve Siri’s pronunciation so that I don’t have to pronounce them incorrectly to get her to recognize who I’m talking about.

  • prosumer

    The instructions you outline have never worked for me. Siri doesn’t even respond with an intent or steps to correct pronunciation. And the little microphone you reference certainly doesn’t make an appearance.

  • ephraimephraim

    Siri mangles my first name, understands that I want to correct it, asks for my pronunciation, then says “I can’t understand you” every time I answer. I think all this procedure does is make Siri select from a list of pronunciations she’s already got and she hasn’t got a list for Ephraim.

  • Pauly

    I tried to correct the pronunciation of a friend’s name in Siri. When I told her “that’s not how you pronounce that” she responded that it was a matter of opinion, and I couldn’t get her to change it. Is there a specific way of altering Siri’s pronunciations of other names than my own?
    My friend’s name is Ali Shaw, which Siri insists on pronouncing “Olly Shaw”. There are several other uncommon names in my contacts list that I’d also like to change or improve Siri’s pronunciation so that I don’t have to pronounce them incorrectly to get her to recognize who I’m talking about.

    @lwdesign1: This is how I got around that. Go into your contact for Ali. Select edit then scroll to the bottom and “add field”. Pick “Phonetic First Name” and then spell out “alley” (which I assume is how it’s meant to be pronounced). You should be good from there.

About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre is Cult of Mac's Culture Editor. He has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef

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