Is there an equivalent to the Mac's terminal command "say" in Ubuntu 9.10?

  • 3
    As an aside: a nice list of English sentences in which Mac OS X understands the context quite well, like "My name is Dr. Smith and I live on Smith Dr.", "The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert", "The guard will permit you to pass if you show a valid permit" and "It is much rainier on the slopes of Mt. Rainier" at macosxhints.com/comment.php?mode=view&cid=107211
    – Arjan
    Jan 10, 2010 at 10:36

5 Answers 5


espeak should be installed by default as text-to-speech engine on Linux.

You should be able to get it to speak from command-line by doing something like this:

echo "Text to speak"|espeak

You can also start espeak by just entering espeak itself, and then enter each line of text you want spoken followed by enter.

Other TTS engines for Linux you could look at:

Espeak is available at (but should be installed by default!):

  • 3
    If you wanted this to directly replace the say command you could use a function: function say() { echo "@" | espeak ; } Jul 29, 2010 at 4:25
  • on Linux Mint is NOT installed by default ;)
    – daveoncode
    Jun 26, 2015 at 9:01
  • 5
    Espeak is not installed by default on Ubuntu.
    – user274720
    Jun 9, 2017 at 0:05
  • 3
    There's no need for echoing and piping. You can simply do espeak "how, now, brown, cow"
    – Zoltán
    Jul 23, 2022 at 8:23
alias say='echo "$1" | espeak -s 120 2>/dev/null'

Then you can use:

say 'How are you doing?'


-s 120 #to make it slower than default
2>/dev/null #to eliminate error masseges on the console

There are a number of speech synthesizers available to install in karmic, most of the ones I've tried have a console version.

Search for "Speech" in synaptic to get the full list. The espeak package works like say.


install speech-dispatcher along with a synthesizer (flite, festival, etc) then

alias say='echo "$1" | spd-say -p -25 -e'

that will use whatever synthesizer you have configured.

The -p -25 is setting the pitch lower... change as desired. -e uses stdin


If you want a proper knock off, you can apt install gnustep-gui-runtime. It's an knockoff of Apple's Cocoa written in Objective C.

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