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 Wen-Ma Tuyu, Zhuangyu Nanbu fangyan Dejing tuyu

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


Yunnan province: Wenshan Zhuang and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, Guangnan county, Zhulin township; Maguan and Malipo (west) counties; Wenshan county, Dehou, Kaihua, Laohuilong, Matang, and Panzhihua townships; Yanshan county, Pingyuan township.

Language Maps
Language Status

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


Western Yanshan-Northern Wenshan (Da Tou Tu), Central Wenshan (Ping Tou Tu), Maguan-Malipo (Jian Tou Tu), Guangnan (Pian 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. Some young people, all adults. All ages in rural areas where L1 is dominant, but only the elders in other areas. Positive attitudes. Also use Nong Zhuang [zhn]. Also use Mandarin Chinese [cmn], with bilingualism, in the local southwestern dialect.

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. Literature. Videos. Texts.


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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