free software for the blind

zhspeak - Zhong Hua Speak (Chinese Speak)

(updated on Sep 25, 2023)

This is a lightweight Chinese TTS, which uses the same voice files to Ekho. It has smaller package size (WAVE voice files are compressed in OGG format) and easier to install (written in Python).

Author: Dr Colin Kong (hob4bit at googlemail dot com)

Source download page:

Python 3.5 or later is required since 4.5.0

To extract the package:

$ tar xJvf zhspeak_xxx.tar.xz
$ p7zip -d zhspeak-xxx.7z

To run the program:

$ bin/zhspeak

How to speak text in the clipboard by pressing a hot key in gnome

For zhspeak 2.0.0 or above (in Ubuntu 10.04)

System > Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts >

  Add >

Name: Speak Mandarin
Command: /path/to/zhspeak -xclip -zh

  Custom Shortcuts > Speak Mandarin > Shortcut > <F8>

  Add >

Name: Speak Cantonese
Command: /path/to/zhspeak -xclip -zhy

  Custom Shortcuts > Speak Cantonese > Shortcut > <F9>

For zhspeak lower than 2.0.0

(by Jonathan Wilson)

Install xclip:

$ sudo apt-get install xclip

Create a text file called "chinesetts" in your home directory, enter the following text in it:

tts=$(xclip -out -selection c test)
.......path/to/zhspeak/binary $tts

In a terminal make the file executable by:

$ chmod +x chinesetts

Open gconf-editor:

$ gconf-editor

Navigate to apps > metacity > keybinding_commands

In any of the empty command_x, set the value to be:


Navigate to apps > metacity > global_keybindings

Set a hot key to correspond with the command_x in the previous step, by setting the value of run_command_x, to be the hot key you wish to use, I use F8