Dai Zhuang language

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Dai Zhuang
Wen-Ma Southern Zhuang
Distribution of Dai Zhuang language
Native toChina
RegionWenshan Prefecture
Native speakers
100,000 (2008)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3Either:
zhd – Dai Zhuang
tyl – Thu Lao (duplicate code)

Dai Zhuang is a Tai language spoken in Wenshan Prefecture, Yunnan, China, in Yanshan, Wenshan, Maguan, Malipo, Guangnan counties. It is also spoken in Honghe Prefecture and Vietnam. The largest concentrations are in Wenshan (50% of total Zhuang population) and Yanshan (20% of total Zhuang population) counties (Johnson 2011b).


Below are various names (both autonyms and exonyms) for speakers of Dai Zhuang (Johnson 2011a:43).

Subdivisions and distribution[edit]

Johnson (2011b) splits Dai Zhuang into 4 dialects according to tonal splitting patterns: Northern, Central, Southern, and Northeastern. They roughly correspond with the following ethnic subdivisions (Johnson 2011a).

  • Northern: Piled Headdress Tu (Da Tou Tu, 搭头土, Daigelai, Black Tulao). Spoken in northern Wenshan and western Yanshan counties.
  • Central: Flat Headdress Tu (Ping Tou Tu, 平头土, River Bank Tulao). Spoken around the city of Wenshan, and in central Wenshan County's Panzhihua (攀枝花) Township.
  • Southern: Pointed Headdress Tu (Jian Tou Tu, 尖头土). Spoken in Malipo and Maguan counties.
  • Northeastern: Slanted Headdress Tu (Pian Tou Tu, 偏头土). Spoken in Guangnan and eastern Yanshan counties.

In Vietnam, Thu Lao (autonym: La Hừ, meaning 'black earth') is spoken in the following 7 villages (Nguyễn 2014:14).[3]

Jerold Edmondson describes Thu Lao as a Central Tai language with about 200 speakers that retains voiced initial consonants in low tones, like Tay of Trùng Khánh District, Cao Bằng Province.[4]

Yunnan (1979)[5] reports that a Tai-speaking group called the Baiyi 摆彝 live in Wenshan City, Maguan County, and Qiaotou Township 桥头苗族壮族乡 of Hekou Yao Autonomous County. Yunnan (1979) suggests that it may be similar to Tai Lue. The Baiyi are classified as ethnic Dai in Hekou, and as Zhuang in Wenshan and Maguan. In 1960, the Baiyi had a population of 6,958.


Many Dai Zhuang dialects preserve voiced stops inherited from Proto-Tai (L-Thongkum 1997). L-Thongkum calls the dialects with the voiced stops "Dai Tho," and the dialects without any voiced stops "Tai Tho."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dai Zhuang at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Thu Lao (duplicate code) at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Dai Zhuang". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Nguyễn Hùng Mạnh. 2014. Tri thúc dân gian trong việc bao vệ rừng thiêng, rừng đầu nguồn của người Thu Lao (Xã Tả Gia Khâu, Huyện Mường Khương, Tỉnh Lào Cai). Nhà xuất bản văn hóa thông tin. ISBN 978-604-50-1511-7
  4. ^ http://www.uta.edu/faculty/jerry/research/map.html
  5. ^ Yunnan minzu shibie zonghe diaocha zubian 云南民族识别综合调查组编 (1979). Yunnan minzu shibie zonghe diaocha baogao (1960 nian) 云南民族识别综合调查报告(1960年). Kunming: Yunnan minzuxue yanjiu suoyin 云南民族学研究所印.

Further reading[edit]