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Talk Dim Sum
Talk Dim Sum
On the App Store

How do I switch languages?

You can switch among Cantonese with Yale romanization, Mandarin with Pinyin romanization, and Mandarin with simplified characters on the dish practice screens (go to a dish page, tap the microphone icon). There you can adjust the speech rate, too.

The speech is stuck in Mandarin or Cantonese even after I switch languages in the Practice screen

This might happen if a non-Siri voice is chosen in Accessibility->Spoken Content settings. Go to your Settings app, tap on Accessibility, then Spoken Content, then Voices, and if the voice set for Chinese is not a Siri voice, select one of the Siri voices under Mainland China, Hong Kong or Taiwan.

When I hit play, I see the characters highlight but don’t hear any sound.

Things to check: make sure the iPhone mute switch is not on (this should not be an issue after the recent fixes for iPhone 14), check the volume setting, see if Internet access is available (usually text-to-speech does not require Internet access, but it might need to when it’s first used).

The Cantonese (or Mandarin) doesn’t sound like native Cantonese (or Mandarin).

This app doesn’t include recordings of each word and phrase but instead uses the built-in iOS text-to-speech (and speech-to-text), the same technology used with Apple’s VoiceOver.

Besides reducing work and cost and maintenance, it has the benefit of keeping the app size down and doesn’t require Internet access (usually), and also ensures there’s no mismatch between the words and speech (I’ve seen discrepancies in some language apps between spoken and displayed words). The tradeoff is that sometimes, especially to a native listener, it might sound not quite natural, like when Siri pronounces names weirdly.

I don’t have an iPhone

Builds for other platforms (including macOS) are available for download from the Talk Dim Sum site. They use a different codebase (but the same data) and not quite as full-featured and actively developed as this app.

Restaurant entries are missing some websites

I avoid listing Facebook sites due to privacy issues, and I try to avoid online ordering sites masquerading as restaurant sites, or anything else problematic. But if I missed a valid and releveant site, just let me know!

This app is not available in my country

For a while I tried to list dim sum restaurants around the world, but it’s just too much work and infeasible (China), and also people would write angry reviews that I left out their city. So it’s just the US for now.