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Why do people sometimes use givin’ instead of giving?

Is it a feature of some dialect?

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  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… Nov 21 '15 at 14:46
  • Their link send you to the wrong place: go to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – user6726
    Nov 21 '15 at 15:14
  • Ahaha, they both send to the same wrong place) Nov 22 '15 at 2:13
  • In general, language is a versatile thing, it is adopted and adapted differently over time and with different people. Of particular interest for your question is the observation that the end of a word is often the least perceptually salient and most susceptible to change.
    – Teusz
    Nov 22 '15 at 8:10
  • Even your English changes - imagine if I asked why you pronounce the word 'wheat' as <ooeet> and not <hweet> as it once was "correctly" spoken, and as it is still spelled today...
    – Teusz
    Nov 22 '15 at 8:12
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The answer is very simple. The -ing suffix is pronounced either or /in/ or .

The choice of pronunciation of the -ing suffix depends on:

  1. Dialect of English: There are three dialectal choices in English

a. /iŋ/ - standard English, many non-standard dialects

b. /in/ - many dialects or non-standard variants

c. /iŋg/ - some dialects in the UK (here's a nice map)

  1. Register: There is also variation between /iŋ/ and /in/ within dialects depending on the register. In this case, /in/ is usually a feature of lower registers. In fact, it is used as a marker of low speech.

Because of the high status of the Standard dialect, there are no dialects of English now where /in/ is the high register option even though that did not used to be the case.

As such it is often called 'g dropping' even though there is no actual g there to be dropped. The common explanation is laziness but that is not the case. It is simply a case of variation.

You can see more about that in this Language Log post.

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  • Also /ṇ/ is common, at least here with SAE. Nov 22 '15 at 17:12
  • /in/ used also to be associated with upper class British English in certain words: in particular, "huntin', shootin'. and fishin'". It is old fashioned almost to the point of caricature now.
    – Colin Fine
    Nov 24 '15 at 0:40
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What do you mean by "graphon"? That's not an English word.

It is generally not an absence of education, and it is definitely associated with some accents.

Could you give an example of the context?

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It is. You answered your own question.

When one person uses it and then doesn't use it, s/he is probably switching his/her dialect/register/idiolect (however we call it).

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My own most usual pronunciation of unstressed "-ing" has not been mentioned in any of the other answers. I say [in], and I mean to distinguish the tense [i] of [in] from the lax [ɪ] (as in "pin"). The reason is that my lax unstressed [ɪ] tenses before a velar nasal to [i] before the word final velar nasal becomes [n].

So, for instance, the derivation of the pronunciation of "peeling", is

/ˈpilɪŋ/ -> [ˈpiliŋ] -> [ˈpilin]

These are allophonic changes, not phonemic ones, which is why I use square brackets. When I aim for word final /n/, the preceding vowel does not tense. So, when I see Dorothy Sayers writing final "n'", for instance "peelin'", for Lord Peter's dialogue, I would most naturally say that as [ˈpilɪn], since it ends in /n/, not /ŋ/.

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  • Do you say [siŋ] or [sɪŋ] for "sing", and [pig] or [pɪg] for "pig"? Raising before voiced velars is fairly common especially in the Midwest; I've never seen this applicable at a more abstract level, though.
    – user6726
    Nov 25 '15 at 6:07
  • @user6726, no, the change is only for unstressed [ɪ] before velar nasal, as I said. So "sing" is [sɪŋ] and "pig" is [pɪg]. It might happen optionally to unstressed [ɪ] before other velars, though, for instance in "relic", "manic", "panic".
    – Greg Lee
    Nov 25 '15 at 7:35

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