Your text is read aloud by Google & cached locally as .mp3 so it works off-line.
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10-31-13 update!

  • The command line-given phrases and text files now cache properly, -They are stored along with the thread-called *.mp3 in /voices.
  • You can have this thing record a Tolstoy novel if you want.
  • Some small but annoying punctuation & spacing bugs have been squashed.
  • If using a text file for input it still must have some punctuation.
  • The threaded calls no longer burp text all over stdout ****

Thanks and credit for what I, Joe Suber, call GoogleTextSpeaks go to:

A. initial working code, interface to API and great idea - Hung Truong (

B. refinement, refactor, and documentation - JulienD,

C. I added the threadable function call and local cache of .mp3 files & re-wrote some french-english documentation into english-english. Also added a bit to make it work in Windows.

required audio package:

  • sudo apt-get install sox

  • sudo apt-get install libsox-fmt-mp3

...or really any command line mp3 player, the lighter the better. I have had it working with yauap for gstreamer as well, though not currently coded for that.

example usages:

  • -l en -s "There once was a man from Topeka" -p
  • or -
  • -l en -f "werder.txt" -p

(since there is http action and at least a fraction of a second second delay) if you want to use it without holding up whatever else is happening, with a minimum of fuss, call via thread module from your own program:

  • import GoogleTextSpeaks as barney
  • import thread
  • txtraw = 'with the goo goo googly eyes'
  • thread.start_new_thread(barney.simplespeech, tuple(txtraw))

    I suppose you can use 'subprocess', but it takes just a tad more to launch & I saw no change.

    GIL or no, most of the action already takes place in a subprocess launched for the .mp3 player

    Each text phrase refers via hash to an on-disk file-name OR it must be retrieved from the Google Translate API - either way in a few milli-seconds we are able to send the .mp3 player the name of a closed .mp3 file that exists in directory

    • ~/voice

    The .mp3 is (already) saved for later use if the phrase comes up again. I experimented with a database and keeping files in memory. None of it was worth the trouble. Just let the OS look up the name of the file. If it ever starts to matter, perhaps we could use sqlite to lookup blobs if an in-memory dict shows hash of the phrase as having occured before... For my app this has been a non-issue. Even without a file cache - ie going to the web every time - this thing responds in less than a half-second. Even if the app has thousands of phrases cached locally by hash for the OS to look through, I think the filesystem will always be faster than a call out to the web.

    There is some virtue in not bothering the Googly web-API / free bandwidth unless we need to do so. Be nice to it so we don't loose it - their Web API voice synthesis is much nicer to my ear than any locally run synthesis, and lighter on local resources.

-Joe Suber