Linguistics Puzzle: Standard Zhuang

By Ella Dorn, BA Chinese and Linguistics

Standard Zhuang is a language spoken by some of the Zhuang minority in Guangxi province, southern China. It is a member of the Tai family of languages along with Thai and Laotian. Since 1982, it has been written in an adapted Roman script under guidance from the People’s Republic of China.

Q1: Can you use your skills of deduction to match the following Zhuang sentences to their English translations?

  1. Gou yaek bae Namzningz.
  2. Mwngz yaek bae gizlawz?
  3. Ngoenzcog mwngz bae Namzningz.
  4. Mwngz ne?

      a. Where do you want to go?

      b. I want to go to Nanning.

      c. What about you?

      d. Tomorrow you are going to Nanning.

Q2: Now that you’ve worked out the first sentences, can you translate the following words into English?

1. Namzningz

2. yaek

3. bae

4. gizlawz

5. mwngz

6. gou

7. ne

Q3: How would you write the following phrase in Standard Zhuang?

Where am I going tomorrow?

Sentences adapted from Sinj and Loz (2008)


Q1: 1=b, 2=a, 3=d, 4=c. 

Q2: 1. Nanning, 2. want, 3. go, 4. where, 5. you, 6. I/me, 7. what about…?

Q3: Ngoenzcog gou bae gizlawz?

Photo Caption: Zhuang women wearing traditional clothing in Chongzuo city, Guangxi province (Credit: Kedibeder / CC-BY-SA-3.0).

Post Author: The SOAS Spirit

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