I already asked a question about the alternation in germanic languages between the ing and ung forms of this suffix on the Linguistics Stack Exchange, but I didn't receive any satisfying answer and I thought that maybe this was the place to get better information on this topic.

I am aware that the ing form is used in Dutch, but I also know that an ig form is used in High Alemannic Dialects, frequently heard in Swiss German. Is this form with the i vowel used in any other High German dialect group other than High Alemannic?

  • 2
    Which German words are you talking about, specifically?
    – Janka
    Feb 25, 2019 at 20:43
  • @Janka Words such as Umgebung,Sicherung,Abmachung etc.
    – X30Marco
    Feb 25, 2019 at 20:50
  • 2
    I am relatively sure the "-ing" suffix which is present in Dutch and Low German (and English) has nothing - or at least not much - to do with the (similarly sounding) "-ig" suffix in Allemanic dialects - Although I have no proof for it. There's just too much distance between the two places of origin.
    – tofro
    Feb 26, 2019 at 7:53

4 Answers 4


Those German -ung nouns have very little in common with -ing verb forms as the gerundium/present participle e.g. in English.

In German, a noun made from the infinitive serves a similar function as the English gerund. The German present participle is built from the infinitive and the ending -d. The -ig ending you mentioned is used for building adjectives from nouns – not specifically in Alemannic dialects but German in general.

The -ung nouns in contrary are additional nouns focusing on the outcome of an action rather than the action itself. They are a step away from the nominalized infinitive.

So, if there was a connection between -ung and -ing words, it has long been lost.

  • 4
    Zeitung heisst im Alemannischen (und Schweizer) Dialekt Ziitig. Das dürfte wohl sein, wonach der OP fragt.
    – tofro
    Feb 25, 2019 at 21:42
  • 3
    Achso. Ich hoffe, die Schweizer nennen Bergrettung nicht Bergrettig.
    – Janka
    Feb 25, 2019 at 21:49
  • 4
    Selbstverständlich tun sie das ;) - Praktisch alle Wörter auf -ung im Deutschen enden im Schweizerdeutsch auf -ig
    – tofro
    Feb 25, 2019 at 21:57
  • Das ist doch Dig!
    – npst
    Feb 27, 2019 at 13:34
  • 2
    @tofro Praktisch alle Wörter auf -ung im Deutschen enden im Schweizerdeutsch auf -ig - und wie unterscheiden sie dann zwischen der richtigen und der falschen Richtig ... äh, Richtung? Feb 28, 2019 at 9:16

As a Swabian I can confirm that this is also the case in Swabian, but it's diminishing. You'll mainly hear it from older people and in smaller villages, as the young mostly don't speak dialect. (Note: They still have an noticable Swabian accent, but no Swabian vocabulary). I also can say that this ing/ig/ich endings don't only apply to ung, but many other endings, too:
"Dooschdig" is "Donnerstag"

But: This is not generally the case. In fact, Swabian varies from town to town and there are many "dialects" of Swabian itself. Also, ung is not always formed with i, but sometimes with o, too, sometimes it's completly ommited. Now that I think about it, Swabian is not very consistent...


While I do not know for sure whether similar forms as in Alemannic are also found in other dialects, I know that some conservative Alemannic dialects use the -ung ending, not the -ig ending, e.g. Seisler German or old-fashioned urban Bernese German Zytung ‘newspaper, tiding’.

Based on that observation, it seems probable that the form with -ig is a relatively recent development, probably influenced by the homophonous adjective ending -ig as in wichtig ‘important’.

This means that the alternation between Alemannic -ig and Standard German -ung is probably not a reflex of the original ablaut alternation between Proto-Germanic *-ingō/-ungō.


If it helps to know, there are also very few Swiss German dialects that use '-ing' like Dutch does, e.g. Ziiting for Zeitung (vs Ziitig in say Zürich dialect). As far as I know, this is only used in Canton Schaffhausen in northern-eastern Switzerland, perhaps in the past it was used further afield. At present, it is seriously diminishing, possibly only used by elderly, rural speakers. As a native speaker of Schaffhausen dialect, I'd never use the '-ing' ending, always '-ig', unless I'm using '-ing' as a sort of shibboleth.

Re the '-ig' ending, it is used outside of High Alemannic in both Highest Alemannic and Low Alemannic dialects and, as a previous comment has already pointed out, in Swabian.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.