AlexaDev Tuesday: Alexa Skills Kit Expanded SSML Support

Last week, Amazon announced Alexa Skills Kit expanded SSML support that allows devs to have Alexa whisper, change her pitch in responses, bleep out certain words, or substitute responses on the fly. This means Alexa can simulate human moods and responses much better now.


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Amazon wants Alexa’s spoken responses to mimic human speech as closely as possible and these new SSML tags will definitely help. From Liz Myers, writing for Amazon’s Alexa Blogs:

Speech Synthesis Markup Language, or SSML, is a standardized markup language that allows developers to control pronunciation, intonation, timing, and emotion. SSML support on Alexa allows you to control how Alexa generates speech from your skill’s text responses. You can add pauses, change pronunciation, spell out a word, add short audio snippets, and insert speechcons (special words and phrases) into your skill. These SSML features provide a more natural voice experience.

Today, we are excited to announce five new SSML tags in the US, UK, and Germany that you can use with Alexa, including whispers, expletive bleeps, and more.

In addition, today we also rolled out speechcons in the UK and Germany. Let me explain what [the new SSML tags] are and how to use them.


Five New SSML Tags

Whispers – Convey a softer dialog with
<amazon:effect name=”whispered”>.

Expletive beeps – Bleep out words with
<say-as interpret-as=”expletive”>.

Sub – Use the <sub> tag when you want Alexa to say something other than what’s written.

Emphasis – Add to change the rate and volume at which Alexa speaks.

Prosody – Use this tag to control the volume, pitch, and rate of speech.


Using the New SSML Features

<amazon:effect name=”whispered”>

The new amazon:effect tag coupled with the name: “whispered” allows Alexa to convey a softer dialog. Notice in the sample below, that amazon:effect requires a closing tag.

The user name is Alexa Devs and the password is… wait, come closer…
<amazon:effect name=”whispered”> the password is whisper. </amazon:effect>

To hear Alexa whisper, copy the example above and paste it into the voice simulator on the developer portal.


Click here to view the full post, which provides code examples for all the new SSML tags and suggestions for their use.


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