My aim is to make Mathematica speak out German words with Umlauts. I found a hint how to make use of a help function mySpeak that will forward a string to the say command and set the corresponding voice parameter.

However, I have not found a way to successfully forward Umlaut-letters from the notebook (or imported text file) through this mechanism to the say command. It seems that the InputForm formatting implicit of Run "breaks" the Umlaut encoding.

How can I send this exact string with appropriate and successful Umlaut encoding from Mathematica to the OS X terminal?

"say -v Anna öffentlich"

I used a line like this to see where it breaks:

Print[InputForm["say -v Anna öffentlich"]]

which returns:

"say -v Anna Ã[Paragraph]ffentlich"

where [Paragraph] is shown as a symbol.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Doesn't Speak["öffentlich"] work? $\endgroup$
    – Karsten7
    Nov 17, 2015 at 19:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Karsten7. I think it works fine, but my assumption is that the use of Run is important in this question for other reasons. $\endgroup$
    – Jens
    Nov 17, 2015 at 19:52
  • $\begingroup$ Correct. When using Speak the voice of the system settings has to be used. It cannot be configured. In my case the system setting is UK Englisch and I want the program to read out German language with a German voice setting on OS X $\endgroup$
    – junis
    Nov 17, 2015 at 21:21
  • $\begingroup$ I want to add that I am using version 10 and OS X 10.11.1 $\endgroup$
    – junis
    Nov 18, 2015 at 20:18

2 Answers 2


I don't know if Anna is pronouncing the umlaut correctly, but this result sounds very similar to what comes through the terminal to my tin ears:

In[1]:= RunProcess[{"say", "-v", "Anna", "öffentlich"}]
Out[1]= <|"ExitCode" -> 0, "StandardOutput" -> "", "StandardError" -> ""|>

There's clearly something weird going on with encodings here; using echo instead gives:

In[2]:= RunProcess[{"echo", "Ich öffentlich"}, "StandardOutput"] 
Out[2]= Ich öffentlich

The UTF-8 encoding for "ö" is C3 B6, while the character code codes for "Ã" and "¶" are C3 and B6 respectively in the "WindowsANSI"/"ISOLatin1" encodings, as well as the "Unicode" encoding.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This works fine in version 10. My approach is using Run and works in versions below 10 where RunProcess doesn't exist yet... (+1) $\endgroup$
    – Jens
    Nov 17, 2015 at 19:50
  • $\begingroup$ The weird encoding behaviour is exactly my problem. Is it on the mathematica side or on the OS X side? $\endgroup$
    – junis
    Nov 18, 2015 at 20:16

To get the umlaut into the Mac OS X command line properly, you could go the route via RTF export. Here is a function that automates this:

Options[say] = {"Voice" -> "Zarvox"};

say[t_, OptionsPattern[]] := 
 Module[{out = 
      "MathematicaOutput" <> StringJoin[Map[ToString, DateList[]]]}]},
   Export[out <> ".rtf", t];
  Run["textutil -convert txt " <> out <> ".rtf -output " <> out <> 
    ".txt && say -v " <> OptionValue["Voice"] <> " < " <> out <> 
  DeleteFile[{out <> ".txt", out <> ".rtf"}]]

say["öffentlich", "Voice" -> "Kathy"]

speaks with a bad english accent. Need to work on the "ch" sound... but umlaut works fine.


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