|Latin (official), Sawndip|
|Regulated by||Ethnic Minority Language Work Committee of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region|
|ISO 639-3||None (|
Standard Zhuang (autonym: Vahcuengh, Zhuang pronunciation: [wāːɕūeŋ], (pre-1982: Vaƅcueŋƅ; Sawndip: 話壯); simplified Chinese: 壮语; traditional Chinese: 壯語; pinyin: Zhuàngyǔ) is the official standardized form of the Zhuang languages, which are a branch of the Northern Tai languages. Its pronunciation is based on that of the Yongbei Zhuang dialect of Shuangqiao Town in Wuming District, Guangxi with some influence from Fuliang, also in Wuming District, while its vocabulary is based mainly on northern dialects. The official standard covers both spoken and written Zhuang. It is the national standard of the Zhuang languages, though in Yunnan a local standard is used.
The following displays the phonological features of the Wuming and northern dialects of Zhuang:
Among other northern dialects of Zhuang, /w/ may be heard as a [β] or [v] sound. Absent consonant produces /ʔ/.
An unusual and rare feature that Zhuang has is the lack of /s/, which is a common fricative among most languages that have them (one other notable exception is in the Australian languages), and yet Zhuang has five fricatives and no /s/.
|Mid||e eː||(ə)||o oː|
[ə] only occurs in diphthong or triphthong sounds.
[ɤ] can occur in recent Chinese loanwords.
Among other northern Zhuang dialects, /e, o/ have shortened allophones of [ɛ, ɔ].
Standard Zhuang has six tones, reduced to two (numbered 3 and 6) in checked syllables:
|1||24||/ǎ/ /˨˦/||(none)||rising||son||to teach|
|2||31||/a᷆/ /˧˩/||Ƨ ƨ||Z z||low falling||mwngz||thou|
|3||55||/a̋/ /˥/||З з||J j||high level||hwnj||to climb up|
|-p/t/k||high checked||bak||a mouth|
|4||42||/â/ /˦˨/||Ч ч||X x||falling||max||a horse|
|5||35||/a᷄/ /˧˥/||Ƽ ƽ||Q q||high rising||gvaq||to cross|
|6||33||/ā/ /˧/||Ƅ ƅ||H h||mid level||dah||a river|
|-b/g/d||mid checked||bag||to hack|
The sentence Son mwngz hwnj max gvaq dah (Son mɯŋƨ hɯnз maч gvaƽ daƅ) "Teach thee to climb on a horse to cross a river" is often used to help people remember the six tones.
Tones for open syllables (not terminated by a closing consonant) are written at end of syllables.
Closed syllables can only have two tones, high and mid checked, high being shown by the final consonant being devoiced (p/t/k), and mid by it being voiced (b/d/g).
|1st||gou (𭆸)||dou (杜) (exclusive), raeuz (僂) (inclusive)|
|2nd||mwngz (佲)||sou (𠈅)|
|3rd||de (𬿇)||gyoengqde (𬾀𬿇)|
Zhuang uses an SVO word order.
Zhuang words can be made up of one, two, or three syllables - one and two-syllable words (e.g. dahraix, 'really') cannot be broken down into morphemes, but trisyllabic words can be. Compound words also exist - for example, mingzcoh, 'name'. Prefixes and suffixes are also frequently used, such as "daih-" (borrowed from Chinese: 第; pinyin: dì). Reduplication is also used.
In 1957, the People's Republic of China introduced an alphabetical script for the newly standardized Zhuang language. The alphabet was based on the Latin script, expanded with modified Cyrillic and IPA letters. A reform in 1982 replaced both the Cyrillic and IPA letters with Latin letters to facilitate printing and computer use. These alphabetical scripts are part of Standard Zhuang.
|1982||A a||AE ae||B b||By by||C c||D d||E e||F f||G g||Gv gv||Gy gy||H h||I i||J j||K k||L l||M m||Mb mb||My my||N n||Nd nd||Ng ng||Ngv ngv||Ny ny||O o||OE oe||P p||Q q||R r||S s||T t||U u||V v||W w||X x||Y y||Z z|
|1957||A a||Ə||B b||By by||C c||D d||E e||F f||G g||Gv gv||Gy gy||H h||Ƅ ƅ||I i||З з||K k||L l||M m||Ƃ||My my||N n||Ƌ||Ŋ||Ŋv||Ny ny||O o||Ɵ||P p||Ƽ ƽ||R r||S s||T t||U u||V v||Ɯ ɯ||Ч ч||Y y||Ƨ ƨ|
Letters in italics only represent tones. Letters in bold are only found in syllable codas.
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 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 it is not currently part of the official writing system.
Standard Zhuang is an artificial mixture of several Zhuang languages. The lexicon is based almost entirely 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). 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 2012, the first Zhuang Proficiency Test (Vahcuengh Sawcuengh Suijbingz Gaujsi, abbreviated VSSG) took place, in which 328 people took and 58% passed. It was promoted as the first standardised minority language test in mainland China, with the objective of supporting bilingual Zhuang-Chinese education. From 2012 to 2020, the average number of registered testees for the VSSG was 376 per year, with candidates from outside Guangxi being accepted after 2019. Currently available at three levels, Basic, Intermediate and Advanced, the examination tests the written skills of reading comprehension, translation both into and from Standard Chinese, and writing.
While Standard Zhuang is largely pronounced as Shuangqiao Wuming dialect, there is a degree of purposeful dialect mixture in vocabulary:
|Cardinal||Zhuang||Zhuang IPA||Bouyei||Middle Chinese||Proto Tai||Saek||Ahom||Tai Nüa||Tai Lü||Tai Dam||Shan||Lanna|
|1||it||[ʔi̋t]||idt||ʔiɪt̚||𑜒𑜢𑜄𑜫 (ʼit)||ဢဵတ်း (ʼáet)|
|3||sam||[θǎːm]||saaml||sɑm||*saːm||𑜏𑜪 (saṃ)||ᥔᥣᥛᥴ (sáam)||ᦉᦱᧄ (ṡaam)||ꪎꪱꪣ||သၢမ် (sǎam)||ᩈᩣ᩠ᨾ|
|4||seiq||[θe᷄i]||sis||siɪH||*siːᴮ||𑜏𑜣 (sī)||ᥔᥤᥱ (sǐ)||ᦉᦲᧈ (ṡii1)||ꪎꪲ꪿||သီႇ (sìi)||ᩈᩦ᩵|
|5||haj||[ha̋ː]||hac||ŋaːʔ||*haː||𑜑𑜡 (hā)||ᥞᥣᥲ (hàa)||ᦠᦱᧉ (ḣaa2)||ꪬ꫁ꪱ||ႁႃႈ (hāa)||ᩉ᩶ᩣ|
|6||roek||[ɣők]||rogt||*ruɡ||*krokᴰ||𑜍𑜤𑜀𑜫 (ruk)||ᥞᥨᥐᥱ (hǒk)||ᦷᦠᧅ (ḣok)||ꪶꪬꪀ||ႁူၵ်း (húuk)||ᩉᩫ᩠ᨠ|
|7||caet||[ɕa̋t]||xadt||t͡sʰiɪt̚||*cetᴰ||𑜋𑜢𑜄𑜫 (chit)||ᥓᥥᥖᥱ (tsět)||ᦵᦈᧆ (ṫsed)||ꪹꪊꪸꪒ||ၸဵတ်း (tsáet)|
|8||bet||[pe̋t]||beedt||pˠɛt̚||*peːtᴰ||𑜆𑜢𑜄𑜫 (pit)||ᥙᥦᥖᥱ (pǎet)||ᦶᦔᧆᧈ (ṗaed1)||ꪵꪜꪒ||ပႅတ်ႇ (pèt)||ᨸᩯ᩠ᨯ|
|9||gouj||[kőːu]||guz||kɨuX||*kɤw||กู̂.||𑜀𑜧 (kaw)||ᥐᥝᥲ (kàw)||ᦂᧁᧉ (k̇aw2)||ꪹꪀ꫁ꪱ||ၵဝ်ႈ (kāo)||ᨠᩮᩢ᩶ᩣ|
|10||cib||[ɕīp]||xib||d͡ʑiɪp̚||ซิ̄บ||𑜏𑜢𑜆𑜫 (sip)||ᥔᥤᥙᥴ (síp)||ᦉᦲᧇ (ṡiib)||ꪎꪲꪚ||သိပ်း (síp)||ᩈᩥ᩠ᨷ|
A significant amount of Zhuang words are loaned from Chinese - around 30 to 40 percent in normal conversation, and almost every word regarding science, politics, or technology. Loans have come from Cantonese as well as other Chinese varieties. Compare Yue Chinese: 快, romanized: faai3, lit. 'fast' to Zhuang: vaiq, lit. 'fast' - much of Zhuang's basic wordstock has come from loans. However, it is difficult to determine if specific loanwords come from Middle Chinese or from Chinese varieties later on in history.
First article of the 1948 United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
|Bouч bouч ma dəŋƨ laзƃɯn couƅ miƨ cɯyouƨ, cinƅyenƨ cəuƽ genƨli bouчbouч biŋƨdəŋз. Gyɵŋƽ vunƨ miƨ liзsiŋ cəuƽ lieŋƨsim, ɯŋdaŋ daiƅ gyɵŋƽ de lumз beiчnueŋч ityieŋƅ.||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.||All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.|
|International Phonetic Alphabet|