8

‘Now take huntin'…’ ‘Oh, bull-fightin' — that's quite a different kettle of fish.…’ Italics bred italics. Dropped g's fell as thick as confetti.

(Jan Struther, Mrs Miniver, 1939; 4th chapter, “The Eve of the Shoot”)

The location is a shooting-party hosted by Lady Chervil. From that and other clues, the context is definitely upper-class British society. So the dropped g's are not a sign of a working-class accent. What do they mean?

  • This affectation is seen in Dorothy Sayers character Lord Peter Wimsey. It goes along with use of the contraction 'ain't.' – user14561 Nov 6 '11 at 6:21
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They are a characteristic affectation of an upper-class (or would-be upper-class) accent from the first half of the 20th century, not much heard since 1950 or so. The terminal Ns are quite clearly enunciated. "Huntin', shootin' and fishin'" is a common(ish) phrase used to describe a certain category of people likely to attend country-house parties, who are pretty much the likely users.

  • 3
    I'd like to read more… Do you have a reference, by any chance? – ShreevatsaR Oct 10 '10 at 4:01
  • In an episode of "The Avengers" from the Emma Peel era ("Silent Dust," maybe; the plot included a fox hunt, I recall), John Steed poses as a country squire and adopts a very exaggerated "huntin', shootin', ridin'" accent. So there must have been some survival of the accent (or memory of it) in the country estate class well into the 1960s—unless we're to infer either that Steed was talking that way not to blend in but to reveal himself as an impostor (which hardly makes sense) or that he was ignorantly imitating a long-obsolete way of speaking (which is amusing but out-of-character for Steed). – Sven Yargs Apr 26 '13 at 3:20
  • Several girls my age (b. late 1960's) used that pronunciation in their teens for at least some words (eg "dubbin" for "dubbing"). RP speakers. So my guess is that in places it hung on for a while longer. – Francis Davey Apr 9 '17 at 21:07
0

Oxbridge and BBC received pronunciation often drop the g as in "anythin," though they seem to have no difficulty saying "thing." Or "everything."

Just remember Quick Draw McGraw and Baba Louie, sidekick. "I don' thin so, Quick Draw." "Just remember, Baba Louie, I'll do the thinnin around here."

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