Using a glottal stop to force the Amazon Echo to correctly pronounce “tw”

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.

This an impressive bit of phoneme hacking, by Joseph Jaquinta:

It’s also occasionally off on some words. A particular problem for me was Alexa’s inability to correctly pronounce “tweets”. It can say “tweet” just fine, but “tweets” comes out as “wheets”. Since one of upcoming skills, Tweet Poll, centers around producing election statistics based on tweets, it uses the word “tweets” a lot.

So I was pretty excited when I saw that the new update included features for giving more fine control over the text to speech engine. In particular, it had a “phoneme” tag that let you specify exact pronunciation in the International Phonetic Alphabet, which was a specific feature request of mine in the forum.

Unfortunately, the implementation was less than stellar. Using a standard “English To IPA” translator, I used “twits” in my skill. Alexa, however, still messed up the “tw” as a “wh”. There is no IPA symbol for “tw” specifically, so I was kind of stuck. Eventually I put a glottal stop between the t and w and got something passable.

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