Zhuang, Dai


A language of China

Alternate Names
Bu Dai, Kau Ndae, Khaau Daai, Thu Lao, Tu, Tuliao, Tuzu, Wen-Ma Southern Zhuang, Zhuangyu Nanbu fangyan Dejing tuyu, Zhuangyu Nanbu Fangyan Wen-Ma Tuyu

100,000 in China (Wang Mingfu and Johnson 2008). Population total all countries: 100,200. Very few monolinguals, though it is L1 learned by children in most Dai Zhuang villages. Ethnic population: 120,000.


Southeast Yunnan Province, Wenshan Zhuang and Miao autonomous prefectures, Wenshan county, Matang, Dehou, Laohuilong, Panzhihua, and Kaihua townships; Yanshan county, Pingyuan township; Guangnan county, Zhulin township; Maguan and Malipo (western edge) counties.

Language Maps
Language Status

6b (Threatened). Language of recognized nationality: Zhuang.


Central Wenshan (Ping Tou Tu), Guangnan (Pian Tou Tu), Maguan-Malipo (Jian Tou Tu), Western Yanshan-Northern Wenshan (Da Tou Tu). Most similar language is Nong Zhuang [zhn], but not mutually intelligible of Nong Zhuang, Min Zhuang [zgm] or Yang Zhuang [zyg] (2010 E. Johnson). Lexical similarity: 63%–70% among Nong, Yang [zhn], Yongnan [zyn], Zuojiang [zzj], and Dai [zhd]; 54% with Yongbei Zhuang [zyb] (2011 E. Johnson). A member of macrolanguage Zhuang [zha].


SVO; voiced oral stop onsets, all final oral stops have been lost except for glottal stops in some locations; 5–6 tones, depending on dialect.

Language Use

Vigorous in most areas except Wenshan Municipality. Home, village, religious and traditional ceremonies. All ages in rural areas where L1 is dominant, but only the elders in other areas. Positive attitudes. Preserving traditional artforms through video, books, etc.. Almost all bilingual in local southwestern Mandarin [cmn]. Also use Nong Zhuang [zhn].

Language Development
No orthography for L1 by government. Speakers use like-sounding Chinese characters to record folk songs, linguists use International Phonetic Alphabet to record pronunciation, so literacy is not possible at present. Poetry. Videos.

Han (Hanzi, Kanji, Hanja) script [Hani], dating from Han dynasty, mainly used in non-official domains (e.g., speakers use like-sounding Chinese characters to record folk-songs). Latin script [Latn], used between 1984 and 1990s, experimental use in education in Wenshan, Yunnan, China.

Other Comments

Buddhist, Daoist.

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