I always thought Conan, the barbarian, was pronounced Co-NAN, with the short a, as in "Nancy." That's how it was pronounced in the 1981 movie Conan the Barbarian. So since then, that's how I pronounced it.
I should have known that nothing related to Conan can be described as "Nancy."
Conan O'Brien pronounces his name "CO-nun." I've never seen him address the issue between his name and the Cimmerian's before this interview with actor Jason Momoa from the 2011 movie.
Here's the interview.
O'Brien said that growing up, everyone pronounced his name "Co-NAN," and thus made fun of him. There are worse names kids can call you than a hugely muscled bad dude. I would have taken it as a compliment.
Then Momoa throws me for a loop, and says the barbarian's name is pronounced "Co-nun," the same way O'Brien pronounces it. Moreover, he says that's the way it's always supposed to have been pronounced. That's the way it's pronounced all the way throughout the 2011 movie.
But is Jason Momoa correct?
Luckily RevolutionSF has on staff an expert for just such emergencies.
I posed the question to RevolutionSF's resident Conan-ologist Mark Finn. He wrote a biography of Robert E. Howard, Blood and Thunder.
"REH pronounced it COE-nun. Or CO-nin.
However you hear it best in your head. Accent on the first syllable. Soft vowel sound on the second.
The pronunciation you allude to came largely out of the Milius movie. Everything that movie touched should be avoided. Like poison ivy."
So it's pronounced "Coe-nun." I feel closer to the Hyborian Age already.