Zhuang (Vaƅcueŋƅ / Vahcuengh)

Zhuang is a northern Tai language spoken by about 10 million people mainly in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in southern China, and also in Yunnan, Guangdong, Guizhou, and Hunan Provinces.

Zhuang was originally written with a mixture of standard Chinese characters, Chinese-like characters and other symbols. This script, known as the Old Zhuang Script or sawndip ("immature character"), dates back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) and was used to write folktales, myths, songs, play scripts, medical prescriptions, family genealogies, contracts, communist revolutionary propaganda, etc.

There are 16 main dialects of Zhuang, some of which differ from one another so much that they are mutually unintelligible, and therefore some linguists consider Zhuang a collection of closely related language rather than a single language with different dialects.

There is standardised form of Zhuang, known as Yongbei Zhuang, based on the dialect of Wuming County in Guangxi, and a slightly different standard, known as Bouyei, is used in Guizhou. A method of writing Zhuang based on the Wuming dialect and using a mixture of Latin and Cyrillic letters and a number of IPA symbols was devised in 1955. A reform in 1986 removed the non-Latin letters and replaced them with individual Latin letters or combinations of Latin letters.

Zhuang is a tonal language and Yongbei Zhuang has six tones which are indicated in writing with particular letters.

Zhuang alphabet

The 1955 version of the alphabet is shown in blue, while the 1986 version is in black.

Zhuang alphabet

Sample texts in Zhuang

Latin alphabet - 1955 version

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.

Latin alphabet - 1986 version

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.

Old Zhuang Script (sawndip)

Sample text in Zhuang (sawndip)

Translation

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.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Links

Information about the Zhuang language
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhuang_language
http://web.hku.hk/~zhuang/Workshop/Abstracts.htm
http://www006.upp.so-net.ne.jp/FFS/zhuangyu_ch00.htm
http://www.sanamionline.net/the-zhuang-language/

Information about the Old Zhuang Script
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sawndip
http://east-chr-data.sourceforge.net/

Information about the Zhuang people
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhuang
http://www.chsource.org/Zhuang.htm

Zhuang lessons (in Mandarin)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClDPZTY_BJk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akUQ250pIyk

Tai-Kaidai languages

Ahom, Bouyei, Dehong Dai, Kam, Lanna, Lao, Lue, Shan, Tai Dam, Thai, Zhuang

Other languages written with the Latin alphabet