It has happened so many times that I am becoming accustomed to it. Actually, when I see a legal document with paragraphs containing less than 4 lines, I am exuberant. Right. Let’s get to the point.
A recent project I worked on contained a paragraph of 10,5 lines. The concept was rather simple but the moment I began to translate, I lost track and had to go back. Many times. So, since this wasn’t the first time, it surely wasn’t going to be the last!
Therefore, I came up with a technique and here are some suggestions.
Please free free to add your own especially if they are a lot better than mine.
1. Read the sentence and try to find the secondary part that “gets in the way” (e.g. xxxxxxx, including xxxxx contained in xxxxxxx signed by xxxxxx).
2. Highlight the primary part of the sentence with colour or make it bold. Your primary sentence is split.
3.Cross out secondary phrase or copy and paste it somewhere else. I prefer to keep it there. Unless I work on a PDF file (which is almost always the case).
4a. Translate the primary sentence and then move to the secondary one.
4b. Translate the “easy” secondary phrase so it’s ready to go into your translated primary phrase. Good method provided you already know what your text is about.
5. Above all, decide whether you want to keep the sentence long in your target language. Does it sound natural or do you need to divide the sentence? If you have a legal text, it might be wise to try not to split the sentence but it depends. Focus on delivering the message that the author intended regardless of the number of words and non stop phrases within the sentence. Sometimes, you need to abandon structures and forms in order to translate your text as closely as possible to your source text.
How about you? Do you often translate long / tricky / mind-blogging sentences? Would you agree that they can drive you crazy which translates to providing some good training for what we do?
You may also want to check out a forum topic on PROZ about this.