In the real world Oriental means "people/person of the east." And Occidental means "people/person of the West," Oxford American Dictionary.
You're applying real world terms to the fantasy world of Greyhawk.
In Greyhawk, it would be just the opposite, or backwards, the people of the Flanaess are the Orientals and the people of the Celestial Imperium are the Occidentals. It just has to do with a people's location on the planet, not their skin color.
Of course, most English-speakers probably don't know the definition of "Oriental", and so interpret it simply as "Asian".
Communication is a funny thing - you not only have to know the meanings of the words you're using, you also have to know the meanings your audience will ascribe to them. Therefore, the words you choose are determined not only by what you're trying to communicate but also to whom.
Because of this, I suspect it would be altogether appropriate to refer to the Asian-flavored parts of Oerth as "Oriental" when describing them to your players. It wouldn't be entirely accurate, but it would get the idea across.
On the other hand, the Asian-flavored lands of Oerth are not all collected in one area. The Celestial Imperium is separate from Zinda and the Geitsakuru Dominion not only geographically but also by choice. The latter two nations are geographically separated from Nippon and the other lands of the Sunela Coast. In relation to the Flanaess, these lands are collectively to the south and/or west, and not to the east. While all of these countries are Asian in flavor, they are not necessarily intended to be as interrelated as the Asian nations of our world. It also seems unlikely to me they would all be referred to by a single term.
Therefore, I suspect the inhabitants of the Flanaess would group them differently and refer to them by different terms. For example, those from the Sunela Coast might be referred to as "Sunelans", those from the Celestial Imperium might be referred to as "Imperials" or something similar, and those living in Zindia and the Geitsakuru Dominion are likely referred to by whatever name has been given to their shared coastal region.
Of course, most English-speakers probably don't know the definition of "Oriental", and so interpret it simply as "Asian" . . . Therefore, I suspect the inhabitants of the Flanaess would group them differently and refer to them by different terms.
This is quite true. It should be remembered that the bible patriarch Job was referred to as "the greatest of all the Orientals." Job 1:3. These words were written in 1473 b.C.E., or some 3,482 years ago.
Job lived in what we today call the Middle East, yet in those times he was called an Oriental, as were the people we today call, Iranians, Iraqis and Afghans.
So you have to take your audience's POV into account. As well as the POV of the people of the Flanaess.
[This is quite true. It should be remembered that the bible patriarch Job was referred to as "the greatest of all the Orientals." Job 1:3. These words were written in 1473 b.C.E., or some 3,482 years ago.
The words used in 1473 BCE were more likely "gadowl ben qedem," "gadowl" meaning "greatest, oldest, or most insolent" and "ben" meaning "son of" and "qedem" meaning "the front, before, the East, or anciently." Most English Bibles translate this as "greatest man of the East." The Latin Vulgate says "magnus inter omnes Orientales." "Greatest of all the Orientals" would also seem to be a valid translation (it's a better translation of the Latin than it is of the Hebrew), but it's just a translation, and not really relevant as an example of how the word Oriental was historically used (as a rule of thumb, citing phrases in other languages isn't a useful way to demonstrate English word usage).
In GH terms, what is considered Occidental or Western is probably going to vary from country to country and culture to culture. To paraphrase an old English saying, "The Orient begins at Calais", so in say Nyrond or Ahlissa you might have people who would basically bunch in "Those decadent Keolanders..." with "...all those Baklunish heathens. You know, those Westerners."
The Latin Vulgate says "magnus inter omnes Orientales." "Greatest of all the Orientals" would also seem to be a valid translation.
I wasn't quoting the Latin Vulgate.
Most English Bibles translate this as "greatest man of the East."
Sadly, "Most English Bibles" are not translated directly from the Hebrew, the Aramaic, or the Greek in which the Bible was actually written, but rather from older English translations that preceded them. And I believe we already agreed that "Oriental" means "man/person/people of the East."
The words used in 1473 BCE were more likely . . .
That appears to be an opinion and there are many. And you are intitled to yours, to be sure. But I'm not interested in a biblical debate with those who believe it to be a book of allegory, since that's simply wasted effort.
I use an English version of the Bible that happens to come from a direct translation of the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek in which the Bible was originally written.
The term "Middle East" is a relatively modern designation, just as the term "Eastern Block" is a modern day invention, as is "Near East" and "Far East."
The term "Oriental," however, is not a modern day invention. And my quotation was to show that the term "Oriental" is not restricted to those who are yellow of skin, or slanted of eye. To think so does not "show" a deficiency on the part of the term, but rather a deficiency on the part of the reader.
Sadly, "Most English Bibles" are not translated directly from the Hebrew, the Aramaic, or the Greek in which the Bible was actually written, but rather from older English translations that preceded them.
(Finally, something in my field!)
I hate to contradict you, Scholar, but I'm afraid that's not quite true. Most English bibles are in fact translations from the original languages. Whether or not a given bible version is a translation or not can usually be determined easily by simply reading the inside cover page. If it's an actual translation it will be designated as such, and if it's not it will be designated as a "paraphrase".
For the record, most modern translations are the result of an astounding degree of scholarship, having been carefully researched by teams of acknowledged experts over a number of years. The amazing number of ancient texts discovered in the last century or so have proven extremely helpful in this, providing much more accurate translations than the Vulgate or 1611 King James version. Paraphrases, on the other hand, may or may not be the result of such scholarship, though some of them are quite reliable and useful.
In my campaign, people from beyond Perrenland are usually called "Westerlings" if given the context there is some reason not to call them "Baklunish"
And speaking of taking into account POV, many RL people currently consider "Oriental" to be at least insensitive and possibly derogatory when applied to people. As a friend of mine once said, "Carpets and vases are Oriental. I'm Asian." _________________ My campaigns are multilayered tapestries upon which I texture themes and subject matter which, quite frankly, would simply be too strong for your hobbyist gamer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Mp7Ikko8SI
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