08-08-03 17:39, Jean-Paul G. POTET wrote:
> I have often heard English people pronounce the verbal ending -ing [In] or
> even [@n] : dancing > dancin' etc., and I thought this form what just
> regarded as colloquial.
> If they didn't drop a /g/, what would make them replace /N/ by /n/?
The history of the participles and verbal nouns in <-ing> is rather
complicated. In Old English the ending of the participle was <-ende>,
and that of the noun <-ing> or <-ung>; they were always kept apart. The
forms converged in later English, since <-ende> developed into <-ind(e)>
in which the final /d/ could be dropped. The resulting /-in/ was
phonetically confusible with the suffix <-ing> of nomina actionis, and
the two fell together orthographically as <-ing>/<-yng> about the 14th
c. It isn't true, however, that the informal ending /-&n/ of the present
participle must represent a simplification of older /-iN/. It's even
possible that /-iN/ is a spelling-pronunciation for earlier /-in/. What
is not regarded as colloquial was perfectly acceptable in formal speech
in the 18th c. Walker (1791) regarded /-in/ as preferable when the verb
ended in /-N/, as in <singing> or <bringing>. Jespersen (1909) reports:
"Professor Napier, of Oxford, once told me it was to him the only
natural way of pronouncing the ending" (pronouncin' the endin'); "and
that A. J. Ellis very frequently had the same sound. The aristocracy,
and 'horsy' people generally, are said to favour [in], which is
certainly less frequent among ladies."