Zhuang languages

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Zhuang language)
Vahcuengh (za), Hauqcuengh (zyb)
Kauqnuangz, Kauqnoangz (zhn)
Hoedyaej (zgn), Hauƽyəiч (zqe)
Hauqraeuz, Gangjdoj (zyb, zhn, zqe)
Kauqraeuz, Gangjtoj (zhn, zyg, zhd)
Native toChina
EthnicityZhuang people
Native speakers
16 million, all Northern Zhuang languages (2007)[1]
Standard forms
Zhuang, Old Zhuang, Sawndip, Sawgoek
Language codes
ISO 639-1za
ISO 639-2zha
ISO 639-3zha – inclusive code
Individual codes:
zch – Central Hongshuihe Zhuang
zhd – Dai Zhuang (Wenma)
zeh – Eastern Hongshuihe Zhuang
zgb – Guibei Zhuang
zgn – Guibian Zhuang
zln – Lianshan Zhuang
zlj – Liujiang Zhuang
zlq – Liuqian Zhuang
zgm – Minz Zhuang
zhn – Nong Zhuang (Yanguang)
zqe – Qiubei Zhuang
zyg – Yang Zhuang (Dejing)
zyb – Yongbei Zhuang
zyn – Yongnan Zhuang
zyj – Youjiang Zhuang
zzj – Zuojiang Zhuang
daic1237  = Daic; Zhuang is not a valid group
Geographic distribution of Zhuang dialects in Guangxi and related languages in Northern Vietnam and Guizhou
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.
Books of Zhuang language

The Zhuang languages (/ˈwæŋ, ˈwɒŋ/;[2] autonym: Vahcuengh, Zhuang pronunciation: [βa˧ɕuːŋ˧], pre-1982: Vaƅcueŋƅ, Sawndip: 話僮, from vah, 'language' and Cuengh, 'Zhuang'; simplified Chinese: 壮语; traditional Chinese: 壯語; pinyin: Zhuàngyǔ) are any of more than a dozen Tai languages spoken by the Zhuang people of Southern China in the province of Guangxi and adjacent parts of Yunnan and Guangdong. The Zhuang languages do not form a monophyletic linguistic unit, as northern and southern Zhuang languages are more closely related to other Tai languages than to each other. Northern Zhuang languages form a dialect continuum with Northern Tai varieties across the provincial border in Guizhou, which are designated as Bouyei, whereas Southern Zhuang languages form another dialect continuum with Central Tai varieties such as Nung, Tay and Caolan in Vietnam.[3] Standard Zhuang is based on the Northern Zhuang dialect of Wuming.

The Tai languages are believed to have been originally spoken in what is now southern China, with speakers of the Southwestern Tai languages (which include Thai, Lao and Shan) having emigrated in the face of Chinese expansion. Noting that both the Zhuang and Thai peoples have the same exonym for the Vietnamese, kɛɛuA1,[4] from the Chinese commandery of Jiaozhi in northern Vietnam, Jerold A. Edmondson posited that the split between Zhuang and the Southwestern Tai languages happened no earlier than the founding of Jiaozhi in 112 BC. He also argues that the departure of the Thai from southern China must predate the 5th century AD, when the Tai who remained in China began to take family names.[5]


Sites surveyed in Zhang (1999), subgrouped according to Pittayaporn (2009):    N,    M,    I,    C,    B,    F,    H,    L,    P

Zhāng Jūnrú's (张均如) Zhuàngyǔ Fāngyán Yánjiù (壮语方言研究 [A Study of Zhuang dialects]) is the most detailed study of Zhuang dialectology published to date. It reports survey work carried out in the 1950s, and includes a 1465-word list covering 36 varieties of Zhuang. For the list of the 36 Zhuang variants below from Zhang (1999), the name of the region (usually county) is given first, followed by the specific village. The phylogenetic position of each variant follows that of Pittayaporn (2009)[6] (see Tai languages#Pittayaporn (2009)).

  1. Wuming – Shuāngqiáo 双桥 – Subgroup M
  2. Hengxian – Nàxù 那旭 – Subgroup N
  3. Yongning (North) – Wǔtáng 五塘 – Subgroup N
  4. Pingguo – Xīnxū 新圩 – Subgroup N
  5. Tiandong – Héhéng 合恒 – Subgroup N
  6. Tianlin – Lìzhōu 利周 – Subgroup N
  7. Lingyue – Sìchéng 泗城 – Subgroup N
  8. Guangnan (Shā people 沙族) – Zhěméng Township 者孟乡 – Subgroup N
  9. Qiubei – Gēhán Township 戈寒乡 – Subgroup N
  10. Liujiang – Bǎipéng 百朋 – Subgroup N
  11. Yishan – Luòdōng 洛东 – Subgroup N
  12. Huanjiang – Chéngguǎn 城管 – Subgroup N
  13. Rong'an – Ānzì 安治 – Subgroup N
  14. Longsheng – Rìxīn 日新 – Subgroup N
  15. Hechi – Sānqū 三区 – Subgroup N
  16. Nandan – Mémá 么麻 – Subgroup N
  17. Donglan – Chéngxiāng 城厢 – Subgroup N
  18. Du'an – Liùlǐ 六里 – Subgroup N
  19. Shanglin – Dàfēng 大丰 – Subgroup N
  20. Laibin – Sìjiǎo 寺脚 – Subgroup N
  21. Guigang – Shānběi 山北 – Subgroup N
  22. Lianshan – Xiǎosānjiāng 小三江 – Subgroup N
  23. Qinzhou – Nàhé Township 那河乡 – Subgroup I
  24. Yongning (South) – Xiàfāng Township 下枋乡 – Subgroup M
  25. Long'an – Xiǎolín Township 小林乡 – Subgroup M
  26. Fusui (Central) – Dàtáng Township 大塘乡 – Subgroup M
  27. Shangsi – Jiàodīng Township 叫丁乡 – Subgroup C
  28. Chongzuo – Fùlù Township 福鹿乡 – Subgroup C
  29. Ningming – Fēnghuáng Township 凤璜乡 – Subgroup B
  30. Longzhou – Bīnqiáo Township 彬桥乡 – Subgroup F
  31. Daxin – Hòuyì Township 后益乡 – Subgroup H
  32. Debao – Yuándì'èrqū 原第二区 – Subgroup L
  33. Jingxi – Xīnhé Township 新和乡 – Subgroup L
  34. Guangnan (Nóng people 侬族) – Xiǎoguǎngnán Township 小广南乡 – Subgroup L
  35. Yanshan (Nóng people 侬族) – Kuāxī Township 夸西乡 – Subgroup L
  36. Wenma (Tǔ people 土族) – Hēimò Township 黑末乡大寨, Dàzhài – Subgroup P


The Zhuang language (or language group) has been divided by Chinese linguists into northern and southern "dialects" (fāngyán 方言 in Chinese), each of which has been divided into a number of vernacular varieties (known as tǔyǔ 土语 in Chinese) by Chinese linguists (Zhang & Wei 1997; Zhang 1999:29-30).[7] The Wuming dialect of Yongbei Zhuang, classified within the "Northern Zhuang dialect", is considered to be the "standard" or prestige dialect of Zhuang, developed by the government for certain official usages. Although Southern Zhuang varieties have aspirated stops, Northern Zhuang varieties lack them.[8] There are over 60 distinct tonal systems with 5–11 tones depending on the variety.

Zhang (1999) identified 13 Zhuang varieties. Later research by the Summer Institute of Linguistics has indicated that some of these are themselves multiple languages that are not mutually intelligible without previous exposure on the part of speakers, resulting in 16 separate ISO 639-3 codes.[9][10]

Northern Zhuang[edit]

Northern Zhuang comprises dialects north of the Yong River, with 8,572,200 speakers[7][11] (Northern Zhuang [ccx] prior to 2007):

Eastern Guangxi[edit]

In east-central Guangxi, there are isolated pockets of Northern Zhuang speakers in Zhongshan (14,200 Zhuang people), Pingle (2,100 Zhuang people), Zhaoping (4,300 Zhuang people), Mengshan (about 5,000 Zhuang people), and Hezhou (about 3,000 Zhuang people) counties. These include the following varieties named after administrative villages that are documented by Wei (2017).[13]

  • Lugang Village 芦岗村, Etang Town 鹅塘镇, Pinggui District 平桂区, He County 贺县
  • Qishan Village 启善村, Yuantou Town 源头镇, Pingle County
  • Xiping Village 西坪村, Zouma Township 走马乡, Zhaoping County
  • Xie Village 谢村, Xinxu Town 新圩镇, Mengshan County
  • Nitang Village 坭塘村, Yuantou Town 源头镇, Pingle County
  • Linyan Village 林岩村, Qingtang Town 清塘镇, Zhongshan County

Southern Zhuang[edit]

Southern Zhuang dialects are spoken south of the Yong River, with 4,232,000 speakers[7][11] (Southern Zhuang [ccy] prior to 2007):

The Tày and Nùng language complex in Vietnam is also considered one of the varieties of Central Tai and shares a high mutual intelligibility with Wenshan Dai and other Southern Zhuang dialects in Guangxi. The Nùng An language has a mixture of Northern and Central Tai features.

Recently described varieties[edit]

Johnson (2011) distinguishes four distinct Zhuang languages in Wenshan Prefecture, Yunnan: Nong Zhuang, Yei Zhuang, Dai Zhuang, and Min Zhuang, all of which are Southern Zhuang varieties except for Yei Zhuang, which is Northern Zhuang.[15] Min Zhuang is a recently discovered Southern Zhuang variety that has never been described previous to Johnson (2011). (See also Wenshan Zhuang and Miao Autonomous Prefecture#Ethnic groups)

Pyang Zhuang and Myang Zhuang are recently described Southern Zhuang (Central Tai) languages spoken in Debao County, Guangxi, China.[16][17]

Writing systems[edit]

Zhuang Sawndip manuscript
the 81 symbols of the Poya Songbook used by Zhuang women in Funing County, Yunnan

The Zhuang languages have been written in the ancient sawndip script for over a thousand years, possibly preceded by the sawgoek script. Sawndip is based on Chinese characters, similar to Vietnamese chữ Nôm. Some sawndip logograms were directly borrowed from Han characters, whereas others were created locally from components of Chinese characters. It has been used for writing songs, and more recently in public communications encouraging people to follow official family planning policy.

There has also been the occasional use of a number of other scripts, including pictographic proto-writing.

In 1957, a hybrid script based on the Latin script and expanded with Cyrillic- and IPA-derived letters was introduced to write Standard Zhuang. In 1982, it was updated to use only Latin letters.[18] These are referred to as the 'old' and 'new' Zhuang, respectively. Bouyei is written in Latin script.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mikael Parkvall, "Världens 100 största språk 2007" (The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007), in Nationalencyklopedin
  2. ^ "Guangxi Zhuang". Lexico UK English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on April 20, 2021.
  3. ^ Bradley, David (2007). "East and Southeast Asia". In Moseley, Christopher (ed.). Encyclopedia of the World's Engangered Languages. Routledge. pp. 349–422. ISBN 978-1-135-79640-2. p. 370.
  4. ^ A1 designates a tone.
  5. ^ Edmondson, Jerold A. (2007). "The power of language over the past: Tai settlement and Tai linguistics in southern China and northern Vietnam" (PDF). In Jimmy G. Harris; Somsonge Burusphat; James E. Harris (eds.). Studies in Southeast Asian languages and linguistics. Bangkok, Thailand: Ek Phim Thai Co. pp. 39–63. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2011-06-19. (see p. 15 of preprint)
  6. ^ Pittayaporn, Pittayawat (2009). The Phonology of Proto-Tai (Ph.D. thesis). Cornell University. hdl:1813/13855.
  7. ^ a b c Zhang Yuansheng and Wei Xingyun. 1997. "Regional variants and vernaculars in Zhuang." In Jerold A. Edmondson and David B. Solnit (eds.), Comparative Kadai: The Tai branch, 77–96. Publications in Linguistics, 124. Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics and the University of Texas at Arlington. ISBN 978-1-55671-005-6.
  8. ^ Luo, Yongxian (2008). "Zhuang". In Diller, Anthony; Edmondson, Jerold A.; Luo, Yongxian (eds.). The Tai-Kadai Languages. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-7007-1457-5.
  9. ^ Johnson, Eric C. (2007). "ISO 639-3 Registration Authority, Change Request Number 2006-128" (PDF).
  10. ^ Tan, Sharon (2007). "ISO 639-3 Registration Authority, Change Request Number 2007-027" (PDF).
  11. ^ a b Zhang (1999)
  12. ^ Hansen, Bruce; Castro, Andy (2010). "Hongshui He Zhuang dialect intelligibility survey". SIL Electronic Survey Reports 2010-025.
  13. ^ Wei, Mingying 韦名应. 2017. Guidong Zhuangyu yuyin yanjiu 桂东壮语语音研究. Beijing: Minzu chubanshe 民族出版社. ISBN 978-7-105-14918-6.
  14. ^ Jackson, Bruce; Jackson, Andy; Lau, Shuh Huey (2012). "A Sociolinguistic Survey of the Dejing Zhuang Dialect Area". SIL Electronic Survey Reports 2012-036..
  15. ^ Johnson (2010)
  16. ^ "Language Name and Locationː Pyang Zhuang (Fuping), China [Not on Ethnologue]". lingweb.eva.mpg.de. Archived from the original on 2014-02-23. Retrieved 2014-02-09.
  17. ^ Liao, Hanbo (2016). Tonal Development of Tai Languages (M.A. thesis). Payap University.
  18. ^ Zhou (2003)


  • Zhuàng-Hàn cíhuì 壮汉词汇 (in Chinese). Nanning: Guangxi minzu chubanshe. 1984.
  • Edmondson, Jerold A.; Solnit, David B., eds. (1997). Comparative Kadai: The Tai Branch. Summer Institute of Linguistics and the University of Texas at Arlington.
  • Johnson, Eric C. (2010). "A Sociolinguistic Introduction to the Central Taic Languages of Wenshan Prefecture, China" (PDF). SIL International. SIL Electronic Survey Report 2010-027.
  • Zhuàng-Hàn-Yīng cídiǎn / Guengh Gun Yingh swzdenj / Zhuang–Chinese–English Dictionary 壮汉英词典. Beijing: Minzu chubanshe. 2004. ISBN 7-105-07001-3.
  • Tan, Xiaohang 覃晓航 (1995). Xiàndài Zhuàngyǔ 现代壮语 (in Chinese). Beijing: Minzu chubanshe.
  • Tan, Guosheng 覃国生 (1996). Zhuàngyǔ fāngyán gàilùn 壮语方言概论 (in Chinese). Nanning: Guangxi minzu chubanshe.
  • Wang, Mingfu 王明富; Johnson, Eric 江子杨 (2008). Zhuàngzú wénhuà yíchǎn jí zhuàngyǔ yánjiū / Zhuang Cultural and Linguistic Heritage 壮族文化遗产及壮语研究 (in Chinese and English). Kunming: Yunnan minzu chubanshe / The Nationalities Publishing House of Yunnan. ISBN 978-7-5367-4255-0.
  • Wei, Mingying 韦名应 (2017). Guidong Zhuangyu yuyin yanjiu 桂东壮语语音研究. Beijing: Minzu chubanshe 民族出版社. OCLC 1082879363.
  • Wei, Qingwen 韦庆稳; Tan, Guosheng 覃国生 (1980). Zhuàngyǔ jiǎnzhì 壮语简志 (in Chinese). Beijing: Minzu chubanshe.
  • Zhang, Junru 张均如; et al. (1999). Zhuàngyǔ fāngyán yánjiū 壮语方言研究 [A Study of Zhuang Dialects] (in Chinese). Chengdu: Sichuan minzu chubanshe.
  • Zhou, Minglang (2003). Multilingualism in China: The Politics of Writing Reforms for Minority Languages, 1949–2002. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. pp. 251–258. ISBN 3-11-017896-6.

External links[edit]