How to Get Siri to Pronounce Difficult Names: Phonetic Name Fields


One can be easily frustrated with Siri if your contact list consists of hard to pronounce names. The workaround is to set phonetic first or last name fields for your contacts.

This isn’t new, but now that Siri is relevant on the iPhone 4S, it’s probably one of the more important tweaks to maximize your Siri experience.

How to set a phonetic first or last name? Just edit your contact, tap ‘add field’, and select them. Then, add any phonetic spelling you wish. Do you know how to pronounce a name like ‘Eoin’?


[Daring Fireball via Shawn Blanc]


  • Anonymous

    Random question why when/why did you guys take down the forums?

  • We had some security-related issues a couple months ago. They are on their way back.

  • Victorw96

    I’ve always wondered what that field was useful for before. makes sense now though. so for like Connie, would you literally spell it like CON-E? I don’t know my phonetics… trolol…

  • Auto Strada


    I can’t seem to find this in my phone. All I see are:

    First Name
    Last Name


    How do I get the Phonetic fields to come out? Thanks in advance for the help 🙂

  • Hyperextension

    It is a great idea, but….I have particular last names in my contacts that begin with an ‘A’, but the phonetic spelling begins with an ‘O’.  After adding that, it will not sort that contact under ‘O’ rather than ‘A’ where it should be.  Strange.

  • Anonymous

    OK, so what is the syntax for the phonetic name?
    For example, the name “Joseph”:
    would we just write “Jo·seph”?
    Or “joh-zuh’f”?
    Or “?d?o?’z?f”?

  • One thing to bear in mind is that adding info to these fields will almost certainly mess up the sorting of your contact list.

    To understand why, you need to understand their intended function.

    They are there to aid with the sorting of Japanese and Chinese names. That’s why they don’t show up by default when using English as the system language. (Oddly, they can’t even be added if you’re using British English.)

    I don’t know much about Chinese, but most Japanese names are made up of two or more kanji characters. Each of these characters can be read in a number of ways. Just looking at the name does not tell you how to read it. There are a few names that use the same kanji but are pronounced very differently. Your computer or phone uses the information in the phonetic name fields to work out what the names sound like and how to sort them. They are usually written in hiragana or katakana, the two phonetic Japanese scripts.

    When your iPhone sorts your contact list, information in these fields will override the information in the regular name fields.

    A messed up contact list may be a reasonable price to pay for a smoother Siri experience but you should be aware of it before you go adding phonetic information to all your contacts.

  • Auto Strada

    I see now.

    Am I the only one who always had his phone set to British English? LOL