Old Zhuang script
Characters for the Zhuang words saw "character" and ndip "uncooked"
|Languages||Standard Zhuang, Bouyei, and other Zhuang languages|
|Time period||to present|
Zhuang characters, or Sawndip [θaːu˨˦ɗip], are logograms derived from Han characters and used by the Zhuang people of Guangxi, China to write the Zhuang languages. In Mandarin Chinese, these are called Gǔ Zhuàngzì (Chinese: 古壮字; literally "old Zhuang characters") or Fāngkuài Zhuàngzì (方块壮字; "square shaped Zhuang characters"). Sawndip (Sawndip: ) is a Zhuang word that means "immature characters". The Zhuang word for Chinese characters used in the Chinese language is sawgun (Sawndip: 倱; lit. "characters of the Han"), gun is Zhuang for the Han Chinese.
How long Sawndip have been used for is unclear. Several "vernacular characters" (Tǔsú zì 土俗字) from Guangxi are recorded in two Song dynasty books, Zhou Qufei's Lǐngwài dàidá (嶺外代答) and Fan Chengda's Guìhǎi yúhéng zhì (桂海虞衡志). Some trace them back to the Tang dynasty, citing a stele from 689 entitled Zhì chéng bēi (智城碑), which, though written in Chinese, contains a number of non-standard characters. The fact that Zhuang readings of borrowed Chinese characters often match Early Middle Chinese also suggests an early date, but these could also be explained as later borrowings from conservative Pinghua varieties. In contrast, scholars studying the similar script used for the closely related Bouyei language in Guizhou associate the origin of that script with the introduction of Chinese officials in the early Qing dynasty.
The script has been used for centuries, mainly by Zhuang singers and shamans, to record poems, scriptures, folktales, myths, songs, play scripts, medical prescriptions, family genealogies and contracts. After the Chinese Revolution in 1949, even communist revolutionary propaganda was written using sawndip. Following the promotion of official romanized Zhuang scripts since 1957, literacy amongst Zhuang speakers has increased. However there are major phonetic and lexical differences between Zhuang dialects, and the Latin-based system is based on the Wuming dialect; as a result, there still are Zhuang speakers that prefer to write Zhuang using sawndip.
After five years in preparation, the Sawndip Sawdenj (Sawndip Dictionary; Chinese: 古壮字字典; pinyin: Gǔ Zhuàngzì Zìdiàn, Dictionary of Ancient Zhuang Characters) was published in 1989 with over 10,000 characters, and is the first and only dictionary of Zhuang characters published to date. In 2008 it was announced that work was to begin on a new dictionary called "The Large Chinese Dictionary of Ancient Zhuang Characters", 《中华古壮字大字典》.
Sawndip Literature 
Sawndip literaure is often in verse though not always so. Only a small percentage of Sawndip literature has been published. Traditional songs, or stories, are often adapted over time. One notable song is called ’Fwen Ciengzyeingz' which means 'Song to tell others' which gives philosophy of life, published twice by Liáng Tíngwàng 梁庭望, in 1992 and 2005, and of which he observes from the names used the song has its origins in Sui-Tang Dynasties and with its final form being set almost a thousand years later in the latter part of the Ming Dynasty.
Sawndip is made up of a combination of Chinese characters, Chinese-like characters, and other symbols. The script has never been standardized; some morphosyllables have more than a dozen associated variant glyphs. According to Zhāng Yuánshēng (张元生), non-Chinese characters usually make up about 20% of Sawndip texts, although some texts may be composed almost entirely of Chinese characters.
- Symbols that do not resemble Chinese characters, and are borrowed from non-Chinese writing systems such as the Latin alphabet and (possibly) Burmese
- Non-standard Chinese-like characters created via Ideogrammatic compounds
- Non-standard Chinese-like characters created via Phono-semantic compounds
- Example: bya "mountain" is written as ⟨岜⟩, containing the ideographic 山 "mountain" in conjunction with phonetic 巴 ba.
- Example: vunz "person" is written as ⟨伝⟩, containing the ideographic radical 亻 "person" in conjunction with phonetic 云 yún.
- Standard Chinese characters borrowed solely for their pronunciations, and do not share the same original meaning in Chinese (in accordance with the phonetic loan principle)
- Example: miz "to have" is written as ⟨眉⟩, a character that is pronounced in Mandarin Chinese as méi.
- Non-standard Chinese-like characters created specifically for Zhuang to indicate the meaning of certain morphosyllables (in accordance with Indicative ideograms)
- Standard Chinese characters representing loanwords or etymologically-related morphosyllables from Chinese
- Example: boi "cup" is written as ⟨盃⟩, a variant character of 杯 bēi, meaning "cup" in Chinese.
- Standard Chinese characters borrowed solely for their meanings and do not have a matching reading in Zhuang with Chinese
- New characters made by juxtaposing a pair of Chinese characters that "spell out" the pronunciation of the Zhuang word as in the traditional Chinese fǎnqiè system, with one character representing the initial consonant and the other the rest of the syllable.
Some of these logograms are frequently used in the Chinese names for places in Guangxi, such as 岜 bya meaning mountain or 崬 ndoeng meaning forest, and are therefore included in Chinese dictionaries, and hence also in Chinese character sets. So far the only Zhuang square characters encoded in Unicode are ideograms that are also present in non-Zhuang character sets, which means that thousands of common Zhuang characters have yet to be encoded. Over one thousand Zhuang square characters have been submitted by China for CJK Ext F.
Regional differences 
Within the Zhuang language there are various differences between regional dialect, each with varying vocabularies; Some scholars suggest when writing Zhuang using sawndip, there are regional differences as well, however their opinion as to what these differences are is not uniform.
Example text 
From Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Northern Zhuang:
- Latin transcription (1982 orthography): "Boux boux ma daengz lajmbwn couh miz cwyouz, cinhyenz caeuq genzli bouxboux bingzdaengj. Gyoengq vunz miz lijsing caeuq liengzsim, wngdang daih gyoengq de lumj beixnuengx ityiengh."
- Latin transcription (1957 orthography): "Bouч bouч ma dəŋƨ laзƃɯn couƅ miƨ cɯyouƨ, cinƅyenƨ cəuƽ genƨli bouчbouч biŋƨdəŋз. Gyɵŋƽ vunƨ miƨ liзsiŋ cəuƽ lieŋƨsim, ɯŋdaŋ daiƅ gyɵngƽ de lumз beiчnueŋч ityieŋƅ."
See also 
- Note: The character for saw meaning either book or written character, IDS ⿰書史, has a 書 radical on the left, and a 史 radical on the right. Similarly, ndip which means raw, uncooked or unripe, IDS ⿰立生, is made up of 立 and 生 radicals. At present there are limitations in displaying Zhuang logograms as many are not yet in Unicode. Sawndip characters have not been standardised, different writers use different characters for the same word, the examples here are from Sawndip Sawdenj.
- Holm, David (2003), Killing a buffalo for the ancestors: a Zhuang cosmological text from Southwest China, Northern Illinois University, pp. 45–46, ISBN 978-1-891134-25-8.
- Bauer, Robert S. (2000). "The Chinese-based writing system of the Zhuang language". Cahiers de linguistique – Asie orientale 29 (2): 223–253. doi:10.3406/clao.2000.1573.
- "《中华古壮字大字典》开始编纂", Guangxi Ethnic Affairs Commission, 16 September 2008.
- Bauer, Robert S. (2005), "Written Representation of Zhuang and Cantonese", Workshop on Zhuang Language, Department of Linguistics, University of Hong Kong.
- Zhāng Yuánshēng 张元生: Zhuàngzú rénmín de wénhuà yíchǎn – fāngkuài Zhuàngzì 壮族人民的文化遗产——方块壮字. In: Zhōngguó mínzú gǔ wénzì yánjiū 中国民族古文字研究 (Beijing, Zhōngguó shèhuì kēxué chūbǎnshè 中国社会科学出版社 1984) page 456
- Noted in page 43 of 《右江流域方块壮字文献的用字研究》 thesis by 韦玉防 2010 http://www.docin.com/p-138822822.html. Example, "k" is used on page 1031 of 平果嘹歌:长歌集 published by 广西民族出版社 in 2004, ISBN 7-5363-4820-7.
- China submission to IRG http://appsrv.cse.cuhk.edu.hk/~irg/irg/irg39/IRGN1886P1_China_CJK_F_Submission.zip
Further reading 
- Liáng Tíngwàng 梁庭望 (ed.): Gǔ Zhuàngzì wénxiàn xuǎnzhù 古壮字文献选注 (Tiānjīn gǔjí chūbǎnshè 天津古籍出版社 1992).
- Lín Yì 林亦: Tán lìyòng gǔ Zhuàngzì yánjiū Guǎngxī Yuèyǔ fāngyán 谈利用古壮字研究广西粤语方言. In: Mínzú yǔwén 民族语文 2004.3:16–26.
- Gǔ Zhuàngzì zìdiǎn 古壮字字典 Sawndip Sawdenj (Nanning, Guǎngxī mínzú chūbǎnshè 广西民族出版社 1989). ISBN ISBN 7-5363-0614-8 / 9787536306141. Dictionary of Old Zhuang characters; contains 4,900 entries and more than 10,000 characters.
- Holm, David (2008). "The Old Zhuang script", in Diller, Anthony (ed.) The Tai-Kadai languages, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-7007-1457-5, pp. 415–428.
- Holm, David (2013). Mapping the Old Zhuang Character Script: A Vernacular Writing System from Southern China. BRILL. ISBN 978-90-04-22369-1.
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