“Aslan” Means “Lion”

I once had a student whose surname was Aslan. I remember making some silly comment on the similarity of her name to that of the lion in the Narnia stories. She fixed me with a look of forbearance for adult ignorance that only a ten-year-old can muster and said:

Aslan is the Turkish word for lion.

Pretty cool, eh?

If you have read The Chronicles of Narnia, (or at least seen the movies), you know that Aslan is the great lion who helps the inhabitants of Narnia find the inner strength they need to battle the forces of evil.

The seven volumes of The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) were published between 1950 and 1956. They’ve been in print ever since, with a hundred million copies in 47 languages having been sold to date.

The Chronicles of Narnia in publication order:

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)
Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia (1951)
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)
The Silver Chair (1953)
The Horse and His Boy (1954)
The Magician’s Nephew (1955)
The Last Battle (1956)

Just listing the titles makes me want to sit down and read through them all again.

In that order.

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3 Responses

  1. I’m told that “aslan” is also “lion” in Persian. My Persian friend pronounces it ahss-lahn, that is, with both As like the A in “father” and the S as in “less.”

  2. Kelly,
    I’ve always pronounced it with short a vowels and a hard s: Az-lan. I believe that that is how the little girl pronounced her name.

    I’ve read that C.S.Lewis is supposed to have pronounced it with short a and soft s: Ass-lan.

    I read the books to my son and daughter, numerous times. My daughter, however, would never let me finish reading The Last Battle to her. She sensed what was coming and didn’t want to hear it! She’s grown with her own little girl now, and I don’t think she’s read The Last Battle to the end yet.

  3. How funny! I had no idea it was a real word.

    Can you tell me how to pronounce it? It is really supposed to be said the way they do in the movies? Before the movies everyone I knew pronounced it /OZ-LAHN/.

    My husband has been reading the series to our children for bedtime stories (in the proper order, as you noted) the last few months. We have seven children who range in age from 22 to eight, so this is at least his third time through the series with them. Love them.

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