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The usual is a common reply to what will you order? or what are you up to?. It is often abbreviated, in Canada, to the first syllable of usual, as in the youzhe. How would you spell this abbreviation? Is there evidence of a standard or more common spelling?

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"It is often abbraviated to the first syllable." - really? In what circles? –  slim Dec 16 '11 at 16:56
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i am genuinely surprised to learn that this such a regionally specific slang. it was worth asking the question just for that. new commenters, please mention where you're from and whether you've heard it before. –  ted.strauss Dec 16 '11 at 17:19
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Yeah, there doesn't seem to be a standard way of spelling the word-final /ʒ/ sound in English, since normally it only occurs word-internally (usual, pleasure, measure, etc). I've heard the youzhe plenty of times, as well as cazh (for "casual", as in keepin' it cazh or business cazh), which has the same problem. –  alcas Dec 16 '11 at 17:43
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I think have heard this a few times, but not as a common, unconscious utterance; only spoken jokingly or in an attempt to sound slightly self-deprecatingly silly, probably by 20-30yr old male speakers. I am a native AmE speaker and would probably have heard this on the east coast somewhere between DC-NY. I was unaware that it was normal (not joking/ironic) slang somewhere else! –  aedia λ Dec 16 '11 at 17:48
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@alcas thanks for pointing out this important phonology issue in English, rarity of coda /ʒ/. One exception that comes to mind is beige. –  ted.strauss Dec 16 '11 at 18:06
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5 Answers

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Any way you want to.

It's gonna be slang in any case, and that gets spelled in lots of ways. If it becomes as common as gonna, it'll develop a normal "eye dialect" spelling.

You could argue for at least the following possible spellings, as communicating the syllable /yuʒ/: youzhe, youzh, yuzh, uzh, uzhe. They all have their problems, and only the ones that work will stick. So try'em all out. This is the way the language grows.

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To be pedantic, the language has already grown by the use of the first syllable of usually by itself. -Spelling-, which is not language, is evolving separately by people trying out different ways of writing that shortening of 'usually'. –  Mitch Dec 16 '11 at 18:04
    
@mitch I beg to differ on your point "spelling, which is not language...". People SMS'ing lol to eachother has introduced a new spoken word 'lol'. So for better and oh yes for worse language evolves both ways: from speech to the orthography and from spelling to speech. –  ted.strauss Dec 16 '11 at 18:51
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@ted.strauss: but you haven't contradicted me. You've used spelling and language as different things, since they affect each other. but the answerer was talking about spelling and called it language, and those are not the same thing. –  Mitch Dec 16 '11 at 19:44
    
@mitch my point is that both speech and writing (spelling) are part of language, and have continuous affects on each other as the language evolves. So I consider the answerer's use of the word 'language' in this instance valid. For a detailed psychological model of language understanding that describes the influence of speech and writing on eachother and various aspects of comprehension, see Seidenberg & McClelland (1989) (p.4 shows a nice diagram of the model). –  ted.strauss Dec 19 '11 at 20:25
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True; spelling is not language. But spelling represents language, and when the language grows, the spelling has to represent it, one way or another. Mostly another, at least in English. –  John Lawler Dec 19 '11 at 20:52
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I've seen it spelled as 'uge' and that makes a lot of sense to me.

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There is an informal English word ending in "zh" that is in current use.

"zhuzh", pronounced "ʒʊʒ", and defined as "To make something more interesting or attractive", e.g. The stylist said he would zhuzh up the outfit with some jewellery.

Hence, I would suggest the spelling "yuzh", or "yoozh".

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As unattractive as all the spellings are at this point (since we are not accustomed to seeing many words ending with the ʒ sound), I think "yuzh" is my favorite. It is simple, it is short, and I think that will make it stick. –  called2voyage Feb 7 at 18:35
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My suggestion would be yushe.

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I would argue against all John Lawler's suggestions. There is a pretty good argument for technical use of 'zh' by analogy to the relationship between s and z (i.e. s:z :: sh:zh where z and zh are voiced versions of s and sh, if I have the terminology right). But I think Lawler is coloured by his profession as a linguist. I don't think there is any standard English word spelled with 'zh' (is there?), so it would confuse many non-linguists. Add to that that all the options given look nothing like 'usual' and that it is clear that context isn't going to help people unfamiliar with the term. I think 'use' would be an obvious choice except for the collision with the common word 'use'. All that said, I don't have a better suggestion. ('uge' like 'luge', jokingly?)

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If we have no letter for the /zh/ sound then maybe ʒ should be a letter. –  smeggo Oct 25 '13 at 4:10
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