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View Full Version : How Do You Pronounce 'Siobhan'?


Jim B.
06-22-2004, 05:08 AM
It is a proper female name. I first heard it as the name of the lead female singer of Bananarama (http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/popmagzuk/saw/artists/nana15.jpg). And it might be British (to-date I have heard of no American women with that name).

It's not in any dictionary I have at least. And I have wondered for the longest time how you pronounce it. Does anyone know? BTW, does anyone know if there is a translation or equivalent of this name? Knowing that would help alot too.

:)

antechinus
06-22-2004, 05:11 AM
sha-vorn

SentientMeat
06-22-2004, 05:11 AM
Sha-vorn.

Ximenean
06-22-2004, 05:12 AM
It's Irish (Gaelic). "Shuh-VAWN".

antechinus
06-22-2004, 05:13 AM
sha-Vorn

bigdfrombigd
06-22-2004, 05:14 AM
It's Irish and it's pronounced " Shu vawhn " Here's another one you may have never heard: Niamh. I bet you'd never be able to pronounce that one without being told how! ...it's " Neeve " :)

bienville
06-22-2004, 05:21 AM
Here's another one you may have never heard: Niamh. I bet you'd never be able to pronounce that one without being told how! ...it's " Neeve " :)

I find that difficult to beliamh.

Mangetout
06-22-2004, 05:45 AM
Also:

Diarmuid = "derm'd" (you really don't need to use your lips as much as you might first think).

BrotherCadfael
06-22-2004, 05:58 AM
All right, who'se been watching "Ballykissangel"??

peritrochoid
06-22-2004, 06:08 AM
Based on the few Irish language guides I have (been trying to teach myself), it seems to me that it would be pronounced much like Usram suggested, only I think the first syllable would have a short i: 'shi-Vawn'. Contrary to the OP, I have encountered a few American women with the name. I think it is perhaps one of the most beautiful female names.

SentientMeat
06-22-2004, 06:43 AM
I would imagine our very own ruadh will be along soon with a summary of Irish pronunciation.

jinty
06-22-2004, 07:40 AM
peritrochoid has it exactly right. Actress Siobhan Redmond (http://bbc.co.uk/comedy/guide/talent/r/redmond_siobhan.shtml) is the only famous Siobhan I can think of offhand, and the BBC have always pronounced her name Shi-von. Same for my next-door-neighbour as a child, and a couple of others I've met IRL.

Aro
06-22-2004, 07:42 AM
Another little titbit: Siobhan is, IIRC, the Gaelic name for Joan.

There is a ton of information on other Irish names on this page (http://hylit.com/info/Names/index.html), if you are further interested.

Annie-Xmas
06-22-2004, 07:48 AM
There's also Siobhan McCarthey, who starred in the original London production of "Mamma Mia."

I have seen the spelling of the name "Americanized" to Shavaugh.

TwistofFate
06-22-2004, 08:02 AM
Shuh-vawn, pronounced the same way as Vince Vaughn.

Neeve is close enough, it's actually more like Neeav, but you would have to be used to the Irish accent to understand the inflection that the amh makes in Niamh.

dantheman
06-22-2004, 08:08 AM
I went to high school with a girl with that first name. She pronounced it "Sheh-vahn."

Ponster
06-22-2004, 09:41 AM
I went to high school with a girl with that first name. She pronounced it "Sheh-vahn."


Wow ! I've found an Irish thread before ruadh :)

As already noted by several members it's 'shi-Vawn' as opposed to 'sha-Vawn'

Slender 'bh' is pronounced as a 'v' in Irish.

Meurglys
06-22-2004, 09:44 AM
A riend of mine is called Siobhan; she's happy to be called Chev (like chevrolet); it took me a while to figure what her name really was!
And, in fact, she sometimes gets birthday cards, etc. made out to Chev.

Aro
06-22-2004, 09:48 AM
Meurglys, there actually is a anglisied version of spelling Siobhan that is written as Chevonne, albeit fairly uncommon.

(If you google 'Chevonne' I'm sure you'll find a few people with that spelling)

curly chick
06-22-2004, 09:56 AM
It is a proper female name. I first heard it as the name of the lead female singer of Bananarama (http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/popmagzuk/saw/artists/nana15.jpg). And it might be British (to-date I have heard of no American women with that name).


Siobhán Fahy, that Bananarama woman has an Irish surname, too.
a friend of mine has the same surname and it seemed to cause awful trouble in America, when she lived there. So Siobhán Fahy must have had a high old time with her name!!

I know a woman who is called Shivaun, which would be an Anglicised phonetic spelling of Siobhán.

Thudlow Boink
06-22-2004, 10:05 AM
It's Irish (Gaelic). "Shuh-VAWN".That's how Don Pardo pronounced it when actress Siobhan Fallon was on Saturday Night Live.

Ponster
06-22-2004, 10:09 AM
Siobhán Fahy, that Bananarama woman has an Irish surname, too.
a friend of mine has the same surname and it seemed to cause awful trouble in America, when she lived there. So Siobhán Fahy must have had a high old time with her name!!

Well I don't know really. I always believed that she had an Irish name because she was in fact Irish, from a town in Tiperary called Thurles, so to me it seems like a perfectly normal name.

If she grew up in the UK then I guess it wouldn't have posed any problems either.

My first girlfriend was a Siobhán and told me that it was the Irish version of JAne or Joan (I can't remember which!).

I have a cousin named Siobhán living in Fort Worth who is changing the spelling to the Chev version to make her life a little easier I believe :)

Faldage
06-22-2004, 10:09 AM
It's the Irish version of Jean, IIRC.

Or is it Janet?

Meurglys
06-22-2004, 10:50 AM
Meurglys, there actually is a anglisied version of spelling Siobhan that is written as Chevonne, albeit fairly uncommon.

(If you google 'Chevonne' I'm sure you'll find a few people with that spelling)

I had forgotten that; it's probably why her friends spell the contraction Chev, not Shev.
Her name is actually Siobhan, though.

TwistofFate
06-22-2004, 10:52 AM
Wow ! I've found an Irish thread before ruadh :)

As already noted by several members it's 'shi-Vawn' as opposed to 'sha-Vawn'

Slender 'bh' is pronounced as a 'v' in Irish.

I get here first!!

*dances a stereotypical jig*

AHunter3
06-22-2004, 11:33 AM
My Aunt had a suitor when I was a kid, the name of whom was pronounced "La-Vaughn". I've always assumed "Lavonne" or "LaVaughn" but by any possibility might it have been Liobhan or something?

Yllaria
06-22-2004, 11:42 AM
My daughter in law is a Siobhan. My son tells people to think of the words: shove - ON. It gets a giggle, and is actually remembered more easily than other explainations.

She's named after her mother, who mostly goes by the nickname Bonnie.

TwistofFate
06-22-2004, 11:52 AM
My Aunt had a suitor when I was a kid, the name of whom was pronounced "La-Vaughn". I've always assumed "Lavonne" or "LaVaughn" but by any possibility might it have been Liobhan or something?

I don't think so. I think Lavonne is french origin.

Thaumaturge
06-22-2004, 01:42 PM
Bhbhbhbhbhbhbhbh!

Pushkin
06-22-2004, 01:56 PM
How does one pronounce my sister's names correctly; Síofra and Díanaimh? Different Irish speaking folks come up with all sorts of different pronounciations. Our family sticks with "she-o-fra" and "dee-a-nuvh" at the moment :)

Barbarian
06-22-2004, 06:40 PM
I once met a woman who insisted her name was pronounced "Si-ob-bane". I told her than in that case, there was no way her parents were as Irish as they claimed.

Orual
06-22-2004, 08:12 PM
My first girlfriend was a Siobhán and told me that it was the Irish version of Jane or Joan (I can't remember which!).

It's the Irish version of Jean, IIRC.

Or is it Janet?

Stop! You're both right! Jane, Joan, Jean and Janet are all variations of the same name, the feminine of John (Johann, Jean, Sean, Ian etc.).

Suburban Plankton
06-22-2004, 10:38 PM
I once met a woman who insisted her name was pronounced "Si-ob-bane". I told her than in that case, there was no way her parents were as Irish as they claimed.

In Sacramento, there is a Seamus Avenue, pronounced 'see-mus'.

ruadh
06-23-2004, 01:37 AM
How does one pronounce my sister's names correctly; Síofra and Díanaimh? Different Irish speaking folks come up with all sorts of different pronounciations. Our family sticks with "she-o-fra" and "dee-a-nuvh" at the moment :)

I'd pronounce them the same way, although I've never encountered the second one.

And just a note to Ponster and Twisty: I did in fact find this thread before the two of yous, but I had nothing to add to the discussion, previous posters having taken care of it just fine :)

Dr. Rieux
06-23-2004, 02:23 AM
I once met a woman who insisted her name was pronounced "Si-ob-bane". I told her than in that case, there was no way her parents were as Irish as they claimed.
And then there are all these American girls named Caitlin, pronounced "Kate-Lynn."

Aro
06-23-2004, 02:53 AM
And then there are all these American girls named Caitlin, pronounced "Kate-Lynn."There are plenty of girls in Ireland who have that name and also use that pronunciation (as apposed to Coyt-leen). It is not necessarily incorrect or a solely Americanised usage.

Of course, if the name is really Cailin, then of should be pronounced as Coll-een.

Ponster
06-23-2004, 05:28 AM
And just a note to Ponster and Twisty: I did in fact find this thread before the two of yous, but I had nothing to add to the discussion, previous posters having taken care of it just fine :)

As I had expected but you should have considered the plight of the poor dopers doing their headless chicken dance waiting for someone who ate black pudding for breakfast to put their minds at ease :)

As far as I can remember (different SD thread) there was an Irish name that went to the USA in and cames back as 'Kate-Lynn' which has now been adopted by Irish mothers as a cool name for their kids.

TwistofFate
06-23-2004, 05:44 AM
As I had expected but you should have considered the plight of the poor dopers doing their headless chicken dance waiting for someone who ate black pudding for breakfast to put their minds at ease :)

As far as I can remember (different SD thread) there was an Irish name that went to the USA in and cames back as 'Kate-Lynn' which has now been adopted by Irish mothers as a cool name for their kids.

As Ruadh is vegetarian I doubt she'd be eating black pudding for breakfast ;) I have black and white pudding in my fridge, but didn't eat any thins morning.

Cáitlín is the name you are thinking of, and Kate-Lynn is a bizarre version of it (apologies to all the Kate-Lynn's reading). I'd try and explain the pronounciation, but it's really hard to spell out with feck all knowledge of phonetics :)

Ponster
06-23-2004, 05:59 AM
As Ruadh is vegetarian..

Vegetarian or pescatarian ? Just curious as it reminds me of another SD thread.

As for Síofra and Díanaimh, I know how to pronunce them but I just know how to explain it to anyone phonetically.

curly chick
06-23-2004, 06:07 AM
I'd try and explain the pronounciation, but it's really hard to spell out with feck all knowledge of phonetics :)

That's a good point Twisty.
It's enormously difficult to explain a vocal sound to someone who speaks in a different accent to you.
Fer instance, how you'd say something simple like shirt or worm would be entirely different to how I'd say shirt or worm. And we know how we both speak!!

Isn't there some sort of international phonetics convention? SMA? Something like that?

ruadh
06-23-2004, 06:17 AM
Ponster: vegetarian.
Curly: IPA.

Eliahna
06-23-2004, 07:33 AM
And then there are all these American girls named Caitlin, pronounced "Kate-Lynn."
IMHO, Kate Lynn is a prettier sounding name than Kathleen or Colleen, and that Caitlin is a prettier spelling than Katelynn. I think people need to accept that there are two names that are spelt the same but pronounced differently and one doesn't make the other less valid.

TwistofFate
06-23-2004, 07:38 AM
IMHO, Kate Lynn is a prettier sounding name than Kathleen or Colleen, and that Caitlin is a prettier spelling than Katelynn. I think people need to accept that there are two names that are spelt the same but pronounced differently and one doesn't make the other less valid.

Noone said anything about one being more valid than the other, I just am a sucker for traditional spellings of Irish names.

RickJay
06-23-2004, 07:47 AM
Do a lot of these people giving their kids names with Gaelic spellings actually speak, you know, Gaelic?

YoudNeverGuess
06-23-2004, 07:49 AM
My Aunt had a suitor when I was a kid, the name of whom was pronounced "La-Vaughn". I've always assumed "Lavonne" or "LaVaughn" but by any possibility might it have been Liobhan or something?

Yeah I'd also say it's probably taken from a French name or something (though that's a guess)

Still I did know a girl called Líobhán once and she pronounced it lee-uh-VAWN.

Not a common name though.

Caitlín is Kathleen (imagine someone saying it with a Kerry or Galway accent). I didn't think the fada on the a was necessary but if it is well then in other parts of the country they might pronounce it Cawt-leen (sort of - it is hard to write...)

My aunt called her daughter Sorcha (pronounced Sur-ih-kha (sort of)) and she calls her Sore-sha and she's Irish :smack:

When I spent a summer in America people used to call me Nymah (Niamh). :)

YoudNeverGuess
06-23-2004, 08:03 AM
Do a lot of these people giving their kids names with Gaelic spellings actually speak, you know, Gaelic?

Well here everyone (unless given a special dispensation) studies Irish (Gaelic)) in school from the start so most people would speak a little and many of the names are so common that people just know how to pronounce them when they read them.

If you have a more unusual Irish name some people who weren't so hot at Irish in school might not be able to spell it right or read it if they haven't encountered it before, though others who were better at Irish will. There are also some variant spellings of different names, some more antiquated than others. For example my sister's name is Méadhbh - and old spelling of the name Maeve (anglicised). Some people spell it Méadb - even older. In old Irish the d and the b would have had a dot called Séimhú (sp?) - pronounced Shay-voo - above them to signify what was later written as 'h'.

I think anglicised spellings of Irish names touch a subconscious nerve in the Irish psyche that developed as a result of forced anglicisation of many place names and other words - symbols of the suppression of the language and repression of the people. There is debate in Ireland as to whether Irish should be compulsory in schools anymore so, as a result of colonisation, the language is nearly extinct and there is a strongish lobby to keep it alive. That's why some people get a little pissed off with people (particularly Irish people) who deliberately anglicise spellings of their Irish names...

YoudNeverGuess
06-23-2004, 08:08 AM
I meant oppression of the people (though maybe some are a little repressed as well :D )

Eliahna
06-23-2004, 08:12 AM
Noone said anything about one being more valid than the other, I just am a sucker for traditional spellings of Irish names.
I should have indicated that I wasn't referring to anyone here. My comment was in reference to people I have seen who get all uptight about it not being pronounced right, when it's really a different name with the same spelling.

Shrinking Violet
06-23-2004, 08:20 AM
ruadh - is this an actual name, and if so, how is it pronounced?

Aro
06-23-2004, 08:27 AM
-dh is generally silent, so it would normally be pronounced something like Roo-A.

Ruadh means 'red' or 'reddish brown' - If it was 'Nighean Ruadh' it would be red-haired girl. Appropriate, I believe.

Ruadh is also a character from ancient Irish mythology, although, IIRC, it was a he, so I doubt very much this is where our Ruadh has chosen to take her name from. :)

Pushkin
06-23-2004, 10:03 AM
Caitlín is Kathleen (imagine someone saying it with a Kerry or Galway accent). I didn't think the fada on the a was necessary but if it is well then in other parts of the country they might pronounce it Cawt-leen (sort of - it is hard to write...)

Someone suggested Catch-lynn as a pronounciation once :confused:

My parents were both educated in the Irish Republic so they both have a grasp of the Irish language (my Dad's isn't as good as he'd like to think :p )

I never learnt anything more than "close the door" and "welcome" and my forenames are equally un-irish, Alastair Clinton being a tribute of sorts to the now dead Protestant-Scottish branch of our family :) Although I've noticed its only actually Scottish people who spell it the way I do and recognise it as a scottish name.

ruadh
06-23-2004, 10:10 AM
IMHO, Kate Lynn is a prettier sounding name than Kathleen or Colleen

Just to clear something up, "Colleen" has nothing to do with the name "Caitlín". It's the anglicisation of cailín which is the Irish word for "girl".


Someone suggested Catch-lynn as a pronounciation once

"it" in some Irish dialects sounds like "itch" (roughly). But the second syllable would sound like "leen" not "lynn".


I think anglicised spellings of Irish names touch a subconscious nerve in the Irish psyche that developed as a result of forced anglicisation of many place names and other words

That's an interesting hypothesis and you may be right. Of course, you have to keep in mind that Irish is just as guilty of this as English is. That quintessential Irish name "Seán" is, after all, a Gaelicisation of the Anglo-Norman "Jean"!

TwistofFate
06-23-2004, 10:32 AM
That's an interesting hypothesis and you may be right. Of course, you have to keep in mind that Irish is just as guilty of this as English is. That quintessential Irish name "Seán" is, after all, a Gaelicisation of the Anglo-Norman "Jean"!

indeed, and it spawned Shawn, Shaun and possibly the worst corruption I've ever seen, Shaughn.

Medbh is the original spelling, is it not?

Ethilrist
06-23-2004, 10:46 AM
Ponster: vegetarian.
Curly: IPA.
He only drinks India Pale Ale? :dubious:

YoudNeverGuess
06-23-2004, 11:05 AM
Medbh is the original spelling, is it not?

I knew there was another version I was forgetting. Though to be pronounced 'Maeve' might it perhaps need a fada on the e? I dunno - I'm no expert.

Don't know which is the original spelling of this name of the three versions mentioned, but we're going way back into the mists of time here.... I suppose one could use that argument about anglicised spellings too but then again English and Irish are different languages whereas modern Irish spellings of old Irish names are evolved versions of the same word in the same language. There are probably examples of this in other languages too but I'm going off on a tangent and I'm starting to doubt my logic/ analytical skills :confused:

Pushkin
06-24-2004, 06:49 AM
"it" in some Irish dialects sounds like "itch" (roughly). But the second syllable would sound like "leen" not "lynn".

Sorry, that's just my poor phonetics :rolleyes: I was trying to get the "leen" or "leein" sound at the end.

Heh, its tricky to get what I mean across, but I think they pronounce it the way you suggested :p

Pushkin
06-24-2004, 06:52 AM
But while you're about ruadh, how should I pronounce "Baile Átha Cliath"??

IIRC its Dublin isn't it? How did it change from BAC to Dublin?? :confused:

TwistofFate
06-24-2004, 08:22 AM
Ball-ya Aw-Ha Clee-a

BAC means The town of the fort of Hurdles. Dublin comes from Dubh Linn, or Black Pool, so called by the early settlers of dublin because of the murky swamp formed where the river Dodder met the Liffey.

Pushkin
06-24-2004, 10:02 AM
Ball-ya Aw-Ha Clee-a

BAC means The town of the fort of Hurdles. Dublin comes from Dubh Linn, or Black Pool, so called by the early settlers of dublin because of the murky swamp formed where the river Dodder met the Liffey.

Doh! Another Dubliner, I didn't get the inside the Pale bit at first :o

Zoe
06-24-2004, 09:23 PM
All of my step-children are Irish descendants with Irish names and three of my grandchildren (siblings) have Irish names with Irish spellings. My step-daughter is another ""Shuh-VAWN" but we are Southerners and say "Shuh-VON" sometimes.

Is Colin the masculine version of Caitlin? Is it ever spelled with two l's in the Irish?

Loopydude
06-24-2004, 09:49 PM
Ever been to Cobh (pron. "cove")?

I have!

:D

I remember when I was told how to pronounce "slainte an bhradain chugat", which means "health of the salmon to you", I thought my head was going to explode. IIRC, I think it's something like "slonteh an vredoin chooth", with the ch kind of gutteral and the th kind of sharply spirantal in that last phonetic, like the German versions of those paired consonants.

TwistofFate
06-25-2004, 10:06 AM
All of my step-children are Irish descendants with Irish names and three of my grandchildren (siblings) have Irish names with Irish spellings. My step-daughter is another ""Shuh-VAWN" but we are Southerners and say "Shuh-VON" sometimes.

Is Colin the masculine version of Caitlin? Is it ever spelled with two l's in the Irish?


Nope, Colin is either a Welsh or a Norman name, I think. Certainly not Irish. I don't think there is a male version of Caitlín.

ruadh
06-25-2004, 05:52 PM
The most generally accepted etymology for Colin seems to be that it's somehow a diminutive of Nicholas.

There is an Irish name, Colm, which sounds similar to Colin (it's a two-syllable name, believe it or not), but it's probably not related.

hibernicus
06-25-2004, 06:25 PM
Ball-ya Aw-Ha Clee-a

That's how it would sound if you sounded all the words out, but it normally sounds like "Blaw Clee-a".

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