What an interesting idea!
One end run around the issue would be to use a data separation model implementation of your database. You put all your layouts, scripts, value lists etc. in File 1 and put the data in file 2. Now you can create Two versions of your interface file (file 1) for each language. You can place layout text in the appropriate language on the layouts to label each field. Instead of table view--a view that often gives the user too much freedom to manipulate columns (IMO)--you'd use list view with the fields arranged in a narrow body to produce the table like view of the data.
Implementing the exact method you are using here may be possible, but you have to keep in mind that the SQL way of doing things just isn't an option for FileMaker developers and you often have to use a very different approach to get the same results.
I'm looking at your SQL and have a question before I try to suggest a FileMaker equivalent here. I see a select statement that would select all the chinese field names, but how would you have implemented it to make it selectable so that English users see ColumnName values and Chinese users see ColumnNameChinese?
Thanks PhilModJunk! My boss and I chatted about it as well, and he came up with the solution of just making the column names for each table pipe-delimited in English and Chinese. So it is sort of a smooshed-together version of your two-file concept. I think I'll end up creating two different layouts for the forms that both countries need to use - that's a good idea.
thanks again for the quick response!