Hello everyone

I need help with the pronunciation of the name KEAN. It is of Irish origin and an anglicized form of CIAN. I have looked at different websites and some have suggested the pronunciation KEE-an while others KEEN. Since I intend to name my new born son Kean, I need to know the accurate pronunciation. Thanks a million.
1 2
(I should stay out of this.) As you probably know, SEAN is pronounced "SHAWN," which seems to comport with your CIAN. But I'm not familiar with the name.
My Cambridge's pronunciation dictionary gives only /ki:n/. Look at this also: http://www.thinkbabynames.com/meaning/1/Keane
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
I'm afraid I misread your post.

So I guess the Irish spelling is Cian, and the spelling you plan to use is Kean, which is anglicized. With "Sean," (my son's name) the Irish spelling is "Sean" and the anglicized version is "Shawn," apparently intended to evoke the correct Irish pronunciation.

So is it your wish, or intention, to pronounce "Kean" in the same way the Irish pronounce "Cian"?

"Anglicized" doesn't always mean the same thing. Sometimes it means we change the spelling so an English speaker will "naturally" pronounce it as in its country of origin.

Sometimes the sounds themselves are difficult for English speakers, so the actual sound is altered by the "anglicizing" process.

Is it your wish to preserve the Irish pronunciation?

An American would surely pronounce "Kean" as "keen."

One of the audio sites has "Xian," and pronounces it as "Shee-an

Anyway, I'm going to an Irish play tonight, and my friend assures me there are several native Irish speakers involved.
Thank you for the quick reply. YES, I definitely want to preserve the Irish pronunciation which I believe is Kee-an (as in Key and rhymes with Ian). Maybe your native Irish speaking friends will be able to confirm this. If so, will I be able to spell his name Kean and pronounce it the Irish way?
The gentleman I spoke with doesn't know about the anglicized versions.

He said the sounds are correct, as "Ian" with a hard "c" in front of it. That is, "Kee-an."

He has a nephew living in Dublin who has that name. He was adamant that in Dublin they don't make two syllables out of it. (Of course, in the US we make two syllables out of "Ian.") I don't think they intend to suppress anything. It's just the way they talk. He said it's not like the way we say "the keen edge on the blade." The "a" is definitely there, but it doesn't get much time. We (US) pronounce "Ian" as "Eee-un." So if you told us to pronunce Cian that way, it would probably come out Kee-un. You'd probably be able to get some to say Kee-an, but it might be a struggle. What this guy was saying sounded like Kee'n, which I suppose is closer to Keen.

I didn't ask where you'll be living. As long as it's not the US you may be able to get the natives to imitate the Irish sound. Or it may be a losing battle. If you should reconcile yourself to that, and want to persuade the natives to pronounce it as they do "Ian," then the "Cian" spelling might not be a bad idea. I think if you spell it "Kean" you can be quite sure that when he gets in school it will be one-syllable "Keen."
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Thank you for the prompt reply and information which was very helpful. My family and I live in Malaysia and we have concluded that in this part of the world either one of those spellings will ultimately evoke a mispronunciation. We have reconciled ourselves to that fact unless we stick with names like Tom or John. However, the lesser evil of the two would be Kean because when people mispronounce it as "Keen" it is still closer to the pronunciation we want. We will just have to tell them it's pronounced Kee-an or even Kee-un. Cian on the other hand would most likely be pronounced as "CH-ian" or "S-ian" due to the influence of local Chinese and Malay languages. Thanks again for the help.

My name is Kean and it is pronounced like Ian with a 'K' in front. I live in Canada and oddly enough at least half of the people I meet come pretty close to the correct pronunciation. Admittedly, 20+ years ago only about 2% of people got it right. Personally, I quite like the name and often get compliments on it - I guess my parents deserve the compliments.
Hi Kean

Thank you for setting my mind at peace (finally). Since I have already named my son (2 months now) Kean, there is no turning back but I have no regrets because the name has stuck and well received so far. People do raise an eye brow due to its rarity but I am confident that in time, hopefully less than 20 years people in Malaysia will know it as well as they do Sean. Thanks again for the post.

Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Show more