Bathrobe's "Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Language Site" (aka cjvlang.com) is an adventure site -- an armchair excursion into three fascinating languages of the Orient.
It will take you on a trip through the familiar and the exotic -- the way Harry Potter has been translated into these totally non-European languages, where they got their names for the days of the week, and of course, the nature of the scripts the three languages are written in. The journey will give you glimpses of history, a close-up of the workings of culture, and the thrill of discovering the unexpected.
You won't need special equipment to enjoy the site -- just a healthy curiosity about language and cultures. To make Chinese and Japanese as accessible as French, Spanish, or other more familiar languages, pronunciation and meaning are shown along with the Chinese characters. (The site is gradually being converted to Unicode, so a Unicode-savvy browser will be a must.)
There is also a section of Photos, which contains material about Oriental stone lions, and other stray matters...
Before we begin, a bit of background...
Thumbnail background: Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese were originally complete 'strangers' belonging to different language families. Chinese belongs to the Sino-Tibetan family of languages. The affiliation of Japanese is still under dispute, although it is often assigned to Ural-Altaic. Vietnamese belongs to Mon-Khmer (although it has also been argued that it should, like Chinese, belong to Sino-Tibetan).
China is one of the world's oldest civilisations, with a written culture stretching back considerably more than 4,000 years. Roughly 2,000 years ago (give or take a few hundred years), the less developed Vietnamese and Japanese cultures came into China's orbit, whether willingly or unwillingly, creating what might be termed an 'East Asian cultural sphere'. (The other modern member is Korea, which is not dealt with here.)
In modern times, the impact of the Western world has brought about huge changes. All three cultures have abandoned large parts of their traditional way of life. Linguistically, there was at first considerable interchange among them as they met the Western challenge, but in the 20th century they began moving apart. In its fascination with the West, Japan turned its back on Chinese culture. Vietnam completely abandoned Chinese characters.
Comparing the three today, all this is apparent - the original strong identities of the three languages, the shared Chinese background built up during more than a millennium of contact, and the adaptation to Western influence in modern times.
What you will find on this site:
1. Days of the Week in Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese - Why should three languages that are often so similar in vocabulary be so different in naming the days of the week? At first it all seems rather easy, but the more you look, the more fascinating it becomes.
2. Allusions to Classical Chinese Poetry in Pink Floyd - A surprising link between one of the rock icons of the 20th century and the poetry of an ancient civilisation.
3. Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese - An international best seller translated into the three CJV languages. How could we keep away? Names of characters, chapter titles, lexical comparisons (comparisons of vocabulary), word play, etc. (Links to Chinese-language site map (Simplified); Chinese-language site map (Traditional), Japanese language site map.)
4. Le Petit Prince (小王子, 星の王子様, Hoàng Tử Bé) -- 'The Little Prince' in Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese. There are far more translations of this book than Harry Potter!
5. CJV Writing Systems - A description of the CJV writing systems which attempts to cover what I consider the essence -- less about the exotic forms of the characters and more about how they are used to write the language.
6. Spicks & Specks - Miscellaneous items that don't belong anywhere else: 'Year of the Sheep or Year of the Goat?', 'Weapons of Mass Destruction', a sign encouraging people to flush the toilet, translation of the Chinese word fengqing, 'Mind the Gap' in Japanese and Cantonese, the perils of translating via a third language (in this case, Chinese).
7. Pictorial - Pictures of A-Zhen, photos of the Goomeri Pumpkin Festival in Australia, stone lions...
8. Spleen - a place for venting spleen on poor products and service.
Now at sibagu.com:
Birds of East & Mainland Southeast Asia: A Glossary of Bird Species - An exploration of the way East and Southeast Asian languages have tackled the demands of modern science in a part of nature close to daily life -- the naming of bird species. Now covers five countries:
Birds of Mongolia (Монгол орны шувуу ◊ 蒙古的鸟类 ◊ 蒙古的鳥類 ◊ モンゴルの野鳥 ◊ 몽골어조류 ◊ Moğolistan Kuşları)
I've done a certain amount of background research for this site, mainly to prevent gross errors of fact. However, my information is neither exhaustive nor authoritative. Much is from dictionaries. I would be delighted to receive corrections or further information.