[This is really a comment on a comment on one of our recent posts about the sociopolitics of g-dropping — I've set it up as a separate post because it's too long to fit gracefully in the comments section.]
I made the point (in responding to another comment) that "there were historically two distinct endings, a present participle suffix -inde or -ende and a nominalizing suffix -ung. These merged to -ing in certain middle-class dialects, while remaining separate in both lower-class and (until recently) aristocratic forms of English".
James Kabala asked: "How hard is the evidence in favor of the statement than "g-dropping" is really "non-g-adding?" It seems remarkable to me that such a wholesale revolution in pronunciation […] could (at least in reading aloud and most formal speech) conquer so thoroughly. Gerunds and particuiples (unlike "often" and even more unlike "forte") are used so frequently that it surprises me that there is not more of a mark in the historical record of a linguistic dispute of such importance."
The change is amply documented in the historical record. But there was no "dispute", because this happened before the time when people argued — at least in public — about whose version of the English language was correct.
From the OED's etymology for -ing1:
suffix forming verbal derivatives, originally abstract nouns of action, but subsequently developed in various directions: […] In OE. the more usual form was -ung (inflected -unge), but -ing also was frequent, esp. in derivatives from original ja- verbs […] In early ME., -ung rapidly died out, being scarcely found after 1250, and -ing (in early ME. -inge) became the regular form.
And from the discussion of -ing2:
suffix of the present participle, and of adjs. thence derived, or so formed; an alteration of the original OE. -ende […] Already, in later OE., the ppl. -ende was often weakened to -inde, and this became the regular Southern form of the ending in Early ME. From the end of the 12th c. there was a growing tendency to confuse -inde, phonetically or scribally, with -inge; this confusion is specially noticeable in MSS. written by Anglo-Norman scribes in the 13th c. The final result was the predominance of the form -inge, and its general substitution for -inde in the 14th c. […]
Amy Vaughn's comment on another post is relevant here: "I was really interested to notice that Old Sportscaster Sarah Palin's g-dropping seems to be restricted to verbs only – so we get doin' and hittin', but fighting and training. This interests me because I come from a region of the US where dropping gs is fairly commonplace if not standard, but I can't recall whether or not it is universal to all occurrences of -ing or restricted to verbs like Palin's seems to be."
I haven't looked in detail at the videos in question, but this sounds like the traditional form of "g-dropping", where the -in' form is limited to the verbal participles, and the -ing form is retained for deverbal nouns. I don't know the geographical and social history in detail, but apparently the 14th-century merger took place in southern England, and was resisted in the north and in Scotland (though the modern forms in Scots are -an and -in, at least according to the OED's description).
A form of the older distinction was also retained throughout England by the rural "huntin' and fishin'" aristocracy. In a post a few years ago ("The Internet Pilgrim's Guide to G-dropping", 5/10/2004), I quoted a passage from John Galsworthy's 1931 novel Maid in Waiting:
'Where on earth did Aunt Em learn to drop her g's?'
'Father told me once that she was at a school where an undropped "g" was worse than a dropped "h". They were bringin' in a country fashion then, huntin' people, you know.'
Since this pattern is the historically older, more conservative one, it's a plausible joke to call it "non-g-adding" rather than "g-dropping" — though again, nothing is being either added or dropped except in the spelling.