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Siri Quick Tip: Overcoming Unusual Name Spellings

personal assistant siri


So, you’ve got your new iPhone 4S and you want to start setting up Siri to recognize people like your spouse, children or boss. But if you’re like me you might have run into an issue with some folks whose name is pronounced one way, but spelled nothing like it. For example my daughter is named Kaci. If I try to explain to Siri that Kaci is my daughter, Siri replies that it can’t find anyone in my address book named Casey. That is problem. The solution is right in front of you.

When Siri responds with what it thinks the name should be, take that little nugget of information and open your contacts. Locate the person, click edit, scroll down to add field. Then select Phonetic First Name and put in the name Siri thinks you’re trying to use. Click Done.

If you go back to Siri and try to set that person’s relation to you it should now find them. The only issue I’ve found with this so far is that the iPhone (when sorting contacts by first name) will sort that person by the phonetic name first. So my daughter doesn’t show up in the ‘K’ section anymore. She’s now in the ‘C’ section. The good thing is you can remove that phonetic setting once you’ve defined the relationship and Siri won’t care.

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  • Ramesh

    Holy frack. Thanks for this post. Siri was driving me nuts w/mispronunciations.

  • Brandon

    I figured I wasn’t the only one!


    • NaviGATR

      Hey Brandon,

      Thanks for this info. Siri has been mangling my last name. I’ve done what you suggested and added the phonetic spelling to all of my family’s contacts, but Siri has not changed the way she says it.

      Any idea what I can do to force her to use the phonetic spelling?


      • bruab

        Me too. I’ve tried nicknames and phonetic names with no effect. I deleted and re-entered
        a contact and it used the phonetic name once, then I added a nickname and now it won’t use
        either no matter what I do. Frustrating.

      • Brandon

        I don’t know if there’s any way to change how Siri pronounces things. The only thing I was able to do was make Siri actually recognize a contact using what Siri thought I was saying should be spelled like.

        I can imagine there are a ton of names out there that Siri is going to have trouble with. Until Apple completes languages for various nationalities you’re definitely going to see some stumbling with pronunciations and spellings.

  • You do know you can edit your “me” contact card on the phone and add family relations directly there, right? No need to set them manually inside Siri jumping through pronunciation hoops, just edit the address book entry and be done with it for good.

  • Kelly G

    Okay- here is my problem.. my husbands name is Geof not Jeff. So when I’m doing a spoken text or email and I say his name, she ALWAYS spells it “Jeff”.. Any work around for this type of thing? So annoying.

  • Kelly G

    Update on my problem above.. the solution came to me in the middle on the night, lol. Add it as a ‘shortcut’.. So I’ve added “Jeff” as the shortcut for the word “Geof”. And it works- so at least that will help those that have a different spelling of a name.

  • Rachel

    My daughters name is McCailla. As a short cut I’ve always typed ‘mc’ when texting. When I got my iPhone, I added her name to the keyboard shortcuts so when I type ‘mc’ it will automatically put ‘McCailla’ in its place. However, even after adding McCailla to my contacts and using the above instruction by adding the phonetic first name to the contact…Siri still doesnt spell my daughters name correctly in a text when spoken. Not really sure what else to do from here.

  • birksmom

    This shortcut idea is great, however, it doesn’t work with IOS 5.1 and higher – Apple removed the capability!! now what to do?

  • Judi

    How do I remove a child- added the wrong person accidentally – from Siri?

  • Tyler

    Siri used to say my girlfriends name correctly. Then i switched to ios 6. Her name is Deanna. It is pronounced Dee Anna. I tried the phonetic spelling and every other trick but siri keeps calling her Dina. So frustrating. Can anyone help?