Best way to spell "Callan" - please help, today is the due date!!!

Hi ladies,


I'm writing for a friend whose due date is today!  Her husband's family is Irish and they are planning to name their new baby "Callan".  Big brother is named Brendan :)


They are still trying to decide on a spelling.  Here are the issues:


1.  They want people to pronounce it "KAL-in", not "KAY-lin", or like Collin.

2.  Dad is not loving the double-L.


Here are the options I see.  Which do you think is best?  Does anyone know the traditional Irish spelling of this name?



Calan (would people prn this "KAY-lin"?)


Calin (would people prn this "KAY-lin"?)

Callen (would people prn this like Collin?)

Calen (I think this would def get prn "KAY-lin", am I right?)


October 23, 2012 12:54 PM

I'd go with Callan or Callen. I would think that Calan was pronounced CaLAN. Callin just looks like 'calling' without the 'g'. I would assume Calin was a girls' name and would pronounce it Caylin. Ditto with Calen. It's a handsome name and goes well with Brendan, but they are going to have to deal with spelling and pronunciation issues.

October 23, 2012 1:06 PM

I'd go with Callan. When I read the title of your post, I read it like KAL-an. Most of the others I'd pronounce differently.

October 23, 2012 1:08 PM

Okay, this is how I'd pronounce them...

Callan and Callen = KAL-in, their desired pronunciation. Unfortunately for the dad, the double consonant following the "a" signals to me to use their desired "short" vowel (eg. tapped vs. taped; supper vs. super)

Callin = While I would normally say this as KAL-in, use of this word as a shortened form of "calling" makes me say it KOL-in. However, I could easily learn to say this as KAL-in

Calan, Calin, and Calen = I'd instinctively call all of these KAY-lin due to the single consonant. (I also don't particularly like how Calan looks, but that's neither here nor there.)

October 23, 2012 4:06 PM

I agree about the double L (in fact, I agree with everything Karyn said)

I'd give a slight edge to Callen over Callan because of the character G. Callen on NCIS-Los Angeles.  I think the show is reasonably popular and the familiarity with the character might help them if they encounter someone who has problems with the name.

FWIW, I knew a family growing up with the last name Calen and it was Kay-lin.  I have no idea how common this surname is, but it might be worth a quick check in the local phone directory or something.


By mk
October 23, 2012 1:12 PM

The only one I really want to pronounce Kay-lin is the Calen spelling. The rest are Kal-in to me. But I think the Callan spelling works best with the pronounciation. If they really don't want double Ls then I don't think Calan would be a problem (and they can always say it rhymes with Alan if people are confused).

By EVie
October 23, 2012 5:01 PM

I agree with what Karyn posted above. The double L is what signals the pronunciation they want—with a single L it's much more ambiguous (with Calan in particular, I might think it was a Spanish name, pronounced cah-LAN). I would personally choose Callan—I don't know whether this or Callen is the more traditional spelling, since as far as I can tell these are both Anglicizations of an Irish spelling anyway, but the -an spelling *looks* more like an Irish name to me (the -en makes it look more like a random surname choice or a made-up name). Callin just looks like a mis-spelled Colin. 

By hyz
October 23, 2012 11:55 PM

I'll second all of this.

October 24, 2012 1:03 PM

I agree with everyone else: Callan is the clear winner of the versions you've listed. In general, the name fits in with current trends (perhaps a little too well) but is also unfamiliar, so they are likely to end up having to clarify a lot, and having the most intuitive spelling will really help.

The single-L spellings make me want to guess either that the name is another rhymes-with-Jaylen variant or perhaps (especially since it is unfamiliar) that it is a foreign name where the vowels are probably pronounced in the same way (or similarly to) Spanish/Hindi/Japanese/pretty much most other foreign languages, which don't contain the a-as-in-apple sound they're looking for. I.e. I'd read a as "ah," like the a in father, and additionally, I'd second-guess the syllabic emphasis and pronouncing the second vowel as a schwa, to potentially end up with Calan = KAH-lahn or kah-LAHN, Calen = KAH-lehn or kah-LEHN, Calin = KAH-leen or kah-LEEN.

Of the double-L spellings, Callin makes me think of "calling" without the g, and Callen I'm torn between pronouncing the same or rhymes-with-Allan. Only Callan makes me automatically go for the pronunciation they want, although I could still imagine this spelling being pronounced KAH-luhn and expect they would still encounter that version occasionally.

I also agree that Callan with the -an ending "looks" the most Irish, especially next to brother Brendan's name, which might be a useful cue. Perhaps because of this, it also reminds me of Callum, which I recognize as Irish (and really like - any chance they'd just go for this?), way more than the other spellings do. Incidentally, I know Callum means "dove" - is anyone here familiar with Callan?

Hope this is useful.

October 27, 2012 11:21 AM

Callan, I think, is best, if your aiming for a spot-on pronouncation. As much as the father may not like the double-l, it enforces the spelling they want, and if that's important to them, they might want to go with that. At the same time, people (such as classmates, teachers & other friends) will get used to unusual spellings easily, and read them as you want without fault very quickly. Trust me, I know people who've had that very problem, and it's worked out fine in the end for them. Go with what you like most, a mispronounciation is usually only interpreted by classmates as an inside joke, and source of some good-natured kidding by friends -no harm done in that. :)

October 29, 2012 1:41 PM

Your friend may have had her baby by now, but I just wanted to say that I know someone with a (10?) year old Callan, spelt that way and pronounced KAL-in.  I prefer Callan of all the options with Callen as a second best.


October 30, 2012 11:48 PM

I vote Callan too- the way they want it pronounced is how I read it in my mind first off.

November 2, 2012 12:28 PM

Hey everyone, just wanted to say a big thanks for all your great advice!  I sent this thread to my friend (and her husband) and they decided to go with the Callan spelling :)


Callan Michael was born this past Saturday.  Mom and baby are healthy and happy!


Thanks again!

By hyz
November 2, 2012 2:05 PM

Thanks for the update, and I'm glad to hear it.  I thinkit was the best choice, and a very nice name.  Congrats to them!

November 2, 2012 2:18 PM

Congrats to the new parents!

November 2, 2012 2:56 PM

Fantastic! Thanks for the update :)

June 11, 2015 2:28 PM

Our son is named Calan and the pronuciation is with the short "a" not Long; names do not follow traditon english langauge rules. The name is both Irish and Scotish meaning contemporary child