I’ll Have the Us(ual)

A reporter wrote to ask us how to spell the abbreviation for frequent pronounced like the first syllable of a word—as in “I’ll have the us(ual).” Let’s see what we can do.

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Normally. Such as coffee and cherry pie.

We define questions like these when we define everything else: evidence-based. But proof of a shortened form of the word often very little in the published, edited text. Word maven and long time New York Times selected columnist William Safire yoozh in 2009:

No one in the crowd of fireflies ordered “normal” food; it’s yooz. — New York TimesMay 24, 2009

That also works for at least one other newspaper:

“What’s the matter, Paul, you want yoozh?” barista Allison Dahl asked when he arrived at the counter on Friday if he wanted his usual. —Joe Marusak, Charlotte Observer (North Carolina)April 6, 2008

But on the other side of the continent, there are two different options that seem right:

Vince Eberly writes: “The only place I get ‘normal’ is at my hairstylist. “I’ve been cutting hair with the same person, Tina McGovern, for 25 years and have followed her from salon to salon. Conversations always start with ‘the yuzh?’ The answer is always yes, and by the end of class, I always look great.” — Paul Turner, Spokesperson’s Review (Spokane, Washington), January 22, 2017

Peter’s fumbling attempts to match Sydney’s easily invented slang usage are a worthwhile joke: “totally” becomes “totes magotes”, “the normal” becomes “the” uzhe”….” — Marc Mohan, Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), March 20, 2009

Two of these three spellings begin with “y”, which has the benefit of helping the reader to understand immediately that the word begins with the same sound as the word. Correct or Not yet. The first “u” of the third option has a visual relationship to the word it shortens, which is a plus. However, it runs the risk of pronouncing the first sound the same as the first in upward or uhTherefore, it is.

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Of course, the consonant at the end—technically a postalveolar friction—is also not without complications. It appears in some words—measure And vision, for example—but it doesn’t have a simple English spelling. All three options above are accompanied by “zh” of the Russian transliteration in Dr. Zhivago. Combining “zh” with consonant letters does the job in often also seems reasonable: “szh.” And even “j” makes sense because its usual sound is a combination of the sound normally made by “d” (an alveolar bass) and the post-alveolar friction sound we’re talking about. follow.

And then there’s the vowel: the round sound of the first vowel in often spelled in many different ways in English, including those found in words start up, glueAnd flute.

Many possibilities, and only four published text examples, were edited from a massive database of US newspapers spanning decades. No lexicographical conclusions can be drawn just about that.

Friends had suggestions, some of which seemed reasonable Great And uszhas well as perhaps more desperate: yujhzse. Some suggest turning to the International Phonetic Alphabet for help, but most of us don’t have friends smart enough to know what “ju:ʒ” sounds like (or for easy keyboard access). to the last character, called ezh).

A former Merriam-Webster lexicographer voted for “usu”.—our internal abbreviation for the term. He points out that English speakers write “oz.” but say ounce. Of course we also say pound when we write “lb.” And foot for “ft.” That makes sense if we want to write “usu.” and talk often. But what if we just want to say the first syllable of the word? Hmm.

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Twitter—where conciseness—seems worth considering, as this is really a question Twitter users have asked:

One of our editors thinks a Twitter poll makes sense. One poll participant was baffled by the conundrum:

She’s not the only one. The poll, which consisted of three parts, produced the following completely unscientific results: most poll respondents preferred abbreviations starting with “u” to “y” (more than 4). eat 1); and many poll respondents think “zh” should be used to spell the last syllable rather than “j” (nearly 9 out of 1) or “szh” (between 2 and 1). But when it came to aggregating the results of the first two polls to find the best, most endearing shortened form of the word, none of the options worked. Hardly anyone likes uez; just a little more tired; and just a little more than like uzh. The majority of those polled chose the fourth option: “They’re all too horrible.”

Oh. So, what is one to do when attracted by the desire to write “I will have us (ual)”? Welp, we fear that the answer is that there is no established short form often, which means that English speakers are actually alone. Our best advice is to use the form that you think best conveys your intended meaning. (Or maybe print this article, stick it on the wall, and throw darts; whichever spelling hits is yours.) In the end, one of the forms wins and we’ll see when that happens.

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Categories: Usage Notes
Source: vothisaucamau.edu.vn

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