Linux espeak command for creating a voice with text

The Linux espeak command is how one can go about synthesizing speech in a Linux system. Text content can be given to it as an option, read from a file, or piped in from the standard input and piping using any Linux command such as cat or echo just to name a few. The command might come out of the box with most systems, however with some it might need to be installed first, but often shows up in most package managers when that is the case. There are a few options when it comes to controlling the pitch and speed of the voice.

Content can be piped into it from the standard input, so it can be used as an endpoint for a chain of commands to have the output spoken rather than spit out to the console. There is also a file option for the command, but as with any other Linux command another command can be used to read a file and then pipe the text to espeak.

1 - Install and basic example

The espeak command might be there to begin with, so one way to find out if that is the case is to just try a basic example of espeak. There are a number of options when it comes to using espeak, but one way is to just type the command and give it a string value to read as a one and only argument to the command. If the espeak command is there, and all is working well with sound, then espeak will read the string with the default settings for pitch and speed.

$ espeak "this is just a test of the espeak"

If all goes well fine, otherwise it would have to be installed first.

$ sudo apt-get install espeak

2 - Pitch and speed options

The default speed is 160 in words per second, that might prove to be a bit to fast for some people so the -s option can be used as a way to slow that down a little to something like 90 maybe. There is also the -p option that can be used to adjust the pitch of the voice on a 0 to 99 scale.

$ espeak -s 90 -p 80 "this is just a test of the espeak"

3 - Reading a file and piping to the standard input of espeak

If you are not up to speed with piping then now might be a good time to learn a thing or two about it now. In this section I will be going over a few examples of using piping as a way to pipe the output of commands as the input for espeak.

3.1 - reading a file by piping it in with cat

The Linux cat command is one way to go about reading the contents of a file and then spiting the contents out to the standard output. However with piping it is possible to pipe the out put of the file from the console to espeak. The result then is that espeak will speak the contents of the file.

$ cat | espeak -s 90 -p 80

3.2 - Fun with date and bash parameter expansion

The date command can be used with bash parameter expansion to get the text of the current day of the week and make it part of a string value that can then be used with a command like echo. The result of that can then also be piped to espeak.

$ echo "today is $(date +%A)" | espeak

4 - Bash script example

Like any other command in Linux espeak can be used in bash scripts. So then espeak along with a little bash can be used to create some fun scripts just for the sake of messing around. For example I can create a bash script that will make use of a case statement as a way to say different things depending on the day of the week.

today=$(date +"%A")
case $today in
echo "It is ${today}, oh boy." | espeak -p 20 -s 40
echo "Today is ${today}, Hell Yeah!" | espeak -p 80 -s 100
echo "Today is ${today}" | espeak -p 50 -s 80

I just save the above script as something like, and then I just need to make it executable with chmod.

$ chmod 755
$ ./

This might not be the most practical example of bash scripts, but you get the idea. Also I just make an effort to write at least one bash script example for a lot of my posts on Linux just for the sake of exercising bash, and this kind of script can be a little fun.

5 - Conclusion

The espeak command can be fun to just play around with, however of course if goes without saying that it can serve some practical use cases as well. Espeak can be used as a way to read a lengthly text to me so that I do not have to take time time to read it for example. Another thing that comes to mind is using espeak to create a voice over for a video, something that I might do if I get into doing such things because I do not like the sound of my voice.

I will be writing new content on Linux, and see about editing some of my older content on Linux in the process of doing so this week. I think that I need to find ways to go about doing things that are a little fun now and then with Linux and bash as a way to keep myself engaged with it. With that begin said playing around with espeak can be fun for a short while.