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I have observed some English speakers in North America who seem to produce this assimilation in words like "running" /ˈrʌnɪŋ/ (as /ˈrʌnin/) or "winning" /ˈwɪnɪŋ/ (as /ˈwɪnin/). I'm specifically interested in when the final vowel becomes /i/ or /iː/ not /ɪ/ (as in some Southern American English accents which produce "runnin'" and "winnin'").

Is this a regional accent?

I found some additional anecdotal discussion at the following links:

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This seems like it's the combination of two seemingly contradictory processes. (1) the change of /ɪ/ to /i/ or /i:/ before /ŋ/, common in the U.S., particularly on the West Coast (discussed here). (2) the change of /ŋ/ to /n/ in the suffix -ing, quite common in many dialects. I would think that (2) would inhibit (1). Possibly you're only noticing the change of /ɪ/ to /i/ for these speakers because there is no longer an /ŋ/ after the /i/, and you don't notice the same change before /ŋ/ because it's so common in the U.S. –  Peter Shor Jun 16 '12 at 14:32
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For only $250,000 per 100 speakers per year, sociolinguists can find out precisely what's going on, if you really want to know that badly. Without a longitudinal survey, however, it's impossible to know how the two processes Peter mentioned will interact, except that it's very like to vary with all kinds of socioeconomic factors, which are themselves changing. –  John Lawler Jun 16 '12 at 16:23
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@Hunter Morris: No, it's a good question. It's just that nobody knows the answer, and it's very expensive to find out for sure. Plus the funding level for sociolinguistics is pretty low these days, and expensive projects like this are unlikely. –  John Lawler Jun 18 '12 at 20:12
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have a look at Professor Wells' blog post about this vowel shift phonetic-blog.blogspot.com/2009/11/i.html –  Alex B. Jun 18 '12 at 23:47
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"/i/ The vowel in him, sit, and bid is moving in two directions. Before ng, it shifts towards the vowel in beam, bean Example: think sounds like theenk " stanford.edu/~eckert/vowels.html –  Alex B. Jun 18 '12 at 23:52
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2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

As @JohnLawler points out, it would take an extensive sociolinguistic study to arrive at something definitive. Based on various bits of research provided in the comments, this accent appears often in speakers from California who perform a "velar pinch." I'm marking this answered because I think until a deeper study is done, this is what we have:

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I'm not completely sure that I'm understanding you but it sounds like you are describing the "yankee" accent..? I would describe this as a slight tendency not to open the mouth fully while speeking and thereby pushing certain vowel sounds into the nasal cavity.

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Please see comments above. It seems to be a marker of people in California and the Pacific northwest. –  Hunter Morris Jul 10 '12 at 6:51
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