Standard Zhuang is an artificial mixture of several Zhuang languages. The lexicon is based on various Northern Zhuang dialects. The phonology is essentially that of Shuangqiao, with the addition of ny, ei, ou from Fuliang, both located in Wuming County. Zhang (1999), along with other Chinese scholars, classifies Shuangqiao dialect as Northern Tai (Northern Zhuang), while Pittayaporn (2009) places it outside of Northern Tai proper, though closely related to it. (See Tai languages#Pittayaporn (2009).) Shuangqiao was chosen for the standard pronunciation in the 1950s because it was considered to be Northern Zhuang but with characteristics of Southern Zhuang.
Standard Zhuang is used most frequently in domains where written Zhuang was previously seldom used, such as newspapers, translations of communist literature and prose. It is one of the official languages of China that appears on bank notes; all Chinese laws must be published in it, and it is used for bilingual signs. Whilst used for adult literacy programs, it is currently only taught in a very small percent of primary and secondary schools in Zhuang-speaking areas. In less formal domains the traditional writing system Sawndip is more often used and for folk songs Sawndip remains the predominant genre with most standard Zhuang versions being based on Sawndip versions.
In 1957 the People's Republic of China introduced a Latin alphabet with some special letters for the newly standardized Zhuang language. The alphabet included a mixture of modified Cyrillic and IPA letters; the Cyrillic letters, however, were used because their shapes approximated those of the numerals previously used to write tone, and so have no connection to the sounds of actual Cyrillic. A spelling reform in 1982 replaced both the Cyrillic and IPA letters with Latin letters to facilitate printing and computer use.
The Old Zhuang script, Sawndip, is a Chinese character–based writing system, similar to Vietnamese chữ nôm. Some Sawndip logograms were borrowed directly from Chinese, while others were created from the existing components of Chinese characters. Sawndip has been used for over one thousand years for various Zhuang dialects. Unlike Chinese, Sawndip has never been standardized, and authors may differ in their choices of characters, or spelling and is not currently part of the official writing system.
^张均如 / Zhang Junru, et. al. 壮语方言研究 / Zhuang yu fang yan yan jiu [A Study of Zhuang dialects]. Chengdu: 四川民族出版社 / Sichuan min zu chu ban she, 1999.
^Pittayaporn, Pittayawat. 2009. The Phonology of Proto-Tai. Ph.D. dissertation. Department of Linguistics, Cornell University.
^Li, Xulian; Huang, Quanxi (2004). "The Introduction and Development of the Zhuang Writing System". In Zhou, Minglang; Sun, Hongkai. Language Policy in the People's Republic of China: Theory and Practice Since 1949. Springer. p. 245