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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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    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. Commented Dec 16, 2011 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
    Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 17:43
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    I've heard this many times. I live in the UK Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 17:46
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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. Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 18:06
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    @slim, how do you pronounce ‘luge’ and ‘rouge’, then? Those two words rhyme exactly with this one; only the syllable onset is different (liquid vs. zero). Commented Oct 25, 2013 at 16:57

7 Answers 7

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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
    Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 18:04
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    @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. Commented Dec 16, 2011 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
    Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 19:44
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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. Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 20:52
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    We may have exceeded the scope of the original question, so I will think of a new question to carry on this discussion more pertinently. I'll post a link here when I do, as per youzh. Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 21:27
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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.
    – user54883
    Commented Oct 25, 2013 at 4:10
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"usge" - this is the most common I've seen and has the benefit of looking like "usual".

See the entry for "usge" on UrbanDictionary. "Yooj" has also been used.

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    I found this page when looking to transcribe lyrics to a friends song, "usge" looks right, and reads well, unlike any of the other options suggested. - (Australia/Straya) Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 12:35
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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. Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 18:35
  • Zhuzh is Polari.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jan 13, 2015 at 2:52
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I find most of the usual (hah) spellings difficult to understand at first, because they don't look like the original word much at all. I suggest "uszh", or something of the sort, as it catches the eye with the shared first two letters before going on to specify pronunciation. It's still up in the air as I see it though.

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I've seen it spelled as 'uge' and that makes a lot of sense to me.

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My suggestion would be yushe.

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