Correct pronunciation of "Don Juan"?

I have always assumed it was pronounced with “Juan” rhyming with “Don”. However, the other day on “Jeopardy!” there was a clue where Alex pronounced it like “JEW-an”. Where does that pronunciation derive from? Have I been saying it wrong all my life?

Depends on the source. Byron intentionally rhymed it in odd ways in his poem, so if the question was about the fictional poem, yeah.


Just don’t pronounce w-h-i-p “hwip”

If I can remember back to my college days, that’s Cuban Spanish, as opposed to Castilian Spanish.

Actually, I think the category was about poetry, so yeah that’s probably it.

I thing the first letter in Juan is like the ch in yacht

I just read this in Brit Lit and my professor pronounced it ‘jew-an.’ I’ll take her word for it because she’s a PhD in the subject and I’m sure as hell not.

Just before the next commercial break, Kelly Miyahara of the Jeopardy! Clue Crew was featured in an insert explaining that Alex’s pronunciation of the poem’s title followed Lord Byron’s rhyming scheme.

Don Juan, in general, whether the fabled roue, the father of Spain’s present king, or the victor of Lepanto, is Dahn Hwahn, with a fairly emphatic H (though not the /kh/ sound). But Byron intentionally rendered it as Don Jew-uhn, more or less rhyming with “new one.”

As a guy who speaks the stuff almost since birth, I have to say the “JEW-an” really confuses me; in reality **Polycarp ** is close, instead of “JEW-an” I would use “wHO-an” or “hoo-an” (close to the sound of an owl’s hoot)

I don’t think it’s any kind of real Spanish. Cuba has a distinct accent, but I am not aware that they pronounce Juan that way.

Uh… if the JEW is supposed to be like Jew, then it’s not any Spanish.

I’ve never heard of regional variations on vowels. On consonant pronunciation and on which sillable gets stressed, yes.

Juan in Spanish does not rhyme with Don. It’s two separate vowels (u like in “you” and a like in “cat”), but a single sillable, a dyptong. The a is the strongest vowel but it’s “juan”, not “ju-AN”. And never “JU-an.”

See here for an example & explanation of how the pronunciation is used in Byron’s poem.

If Don Juan were Manx rather than Spanish, his name would be pronounced like Byron pronounced it.

(“Juan” is Manx Gaelic for “John”, and pronounced “Jewann”.)

We don’t, “who-AN” is the way it’s pronounced in Cuba, and anywhere Spanish is spoken as far as I know.

Byron’s pronunciation Jew-an wasn’t odd, it was the standard English pronunciation of the day. Before the 20th century the English language unashamedly adapted foreign names to an English-style pronunciation, just as other countries did, and still do.

Thus Don Quixote was pronounced Don Kwicksott in English, Don Quichotte in French. Don Juan was Don Jew-an, and a century before that, Don John. Shakespeare reflects this too - Jacques in As You Like It is pronounced Jake-wiss.

In the 20th century the fashion changed and we began to pronounce names as we thought they should be pronounced in the language of origin - often ending up with a pronunciation that was at home nowhere.

Argh! I missed that… I must have run off to the kitchen too quickly! :smack:

I am guessing you have been out of college for a while. But. Cubans speak Spanish (Castellano) & they pronounce “Don Juan” like anywhere else where Spanish is spoken.


I listen to repeats of the BBC program “My Word”, which ran from 1957 to 1990. I have heard the panelists and the moderator say “Don Joo-an” and “Don Kwik-soat”. And of course you can hear the Brits call the car “JAG-yoo-ahr” today. OTOH, they pronounce French names and phrases correctly. I’ve wondered why words from the two languages are treated differently.

Yes, I have been out of college for a while. My last Spanish professor was from Cuba and he attempted to teach us Castilian Spanish as well as Cuban Spanish. I can remember that all these years later because he took great pains to teach us the language as required by the curriculum as well as the version he grew up with and spoke.