While it's reasonably common for people to drop the g in words such as waiting, hating, and dating, I seem to be stumbling upon a number of Americans additionally drawing out the final syllable of these words. Id est, they pronounce waiting (/weɪtɪŋ/) as waiteen (/weɪtiːn/). I find it oddly pleasant and easy on the ear. While I initially suspected this form to be particular to teenagers, I've since also encountered adults employing it.

Is this affectation particular to a region or class of society in the US?

  • I'd have ideally also included a link to an audio or video clip. But it's tough work searching for accents! – coleopterist Sep 26 '12 at 5:20
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    Where in the US are you hearing this? I'm an American in my 20s and as far as I know have never heard it. – alcas Sep 26 '12 at 7:31
  • @alcas I didn't hear it in the US. This was peculiar to an American woman I met on a flight. She stated that she was from New York. But she had more of a southern drawl and was probably brought up elsewhere. I have also heard this a few times here and there in videos. Unfortunately, I cannot recall their titles. – coleopterist Sep 26 '12 at 15:44
  • @coleopterist: I lived in the New York suburbs for 17 years (and so am fairly familiar with the New York accent), and this pronunciation sounds quite strange to me. I don't think it comes from New York. – Peter Shor Sep 26 '12 at 15:56
  • I haven't noticed that, but I've noticed the exact opposite vowel change, where Caitlinn seems to only ever be pronounced by Americans with the /iːn/ turned into a /ɪŋ/, but some of that could be a playing up of stereotypes rather than an accurate portrayal. – Jon Hanna Feb 13 '13 at 15:12

There is a duplicate question. There really hasn't been much study of this phenomenon, but other people have noticed it, and it seems like it should be a feature of Californian and southwestern U.S. accents. One thing this duplicate question doesn't answer is how this process developed. I suspect it was a two-step process.

  1. People started using /iː/ as an allophone of /ɪ/ before /ŋ/ and /ŋk/. This phenomenon is well-documented in California—see the links in the duplicate question. Since there are no English words with the phoneme sequence /iːŋ/, it doesn't create any ambiguity in language. These people would say waiteeng and waitin', because after dropping the 'g', the phoneme would still be /ɪ/, and since there's now an /n/ after it, the pronunciation would revert to /ɪn/. Having lived in California (several decades ago), I don't think I even notice this pronunciation as being unusual.

  2. People internalized /iː/ as the actual phoneme in words like pink, king, and waiting. (This phenomenon has also been well-documented—again, see the links in the duplicate question.) Now, presumably, when these people drop the 'g', some of them keep the /iː/ phoneme, yielding the pronunciation waiteen'. This pronunciation sounds quite strange to me.

  • Thanks Peter. This has been very educational. While I find myself liking the oddness of waiteen', I don't think I'd be able to view peenk or keeng just as favourably. – coleopterist Sep 26 '12 at 16:34

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