We usually see many long English sentences in the press, famous works and some other articles. There are twenty or thirty words, even forty words in one sentence, which will let the readers in a daze and do not know how to translate the words accurately. So it is difficult for us to translate such long, complicated and redundant phrases and sentences. In general, a long sentence is composed of the main clause, subordinate clause and some modifiers. Therefore, we should clarify the relations of these parts during translation, and then we will find it much more easily.
Let us have a look at a long sentence:
From radio-active water and soil around a nuclear-weapons plant in Colorado to man-made deserts in Soviet Central Asia, the world is peppered with examples of what poor education or neighborly attitudes can do to the planet that must feed and clothe us all.
From above sentence, we found that the long sentences is used to express the complex meaning in English, while we usually use the short and simple sentences to express the meaning in Chinese. During translation, we should not be afraid of those long sentences because the main relationship could be found easily if we find the main structure. We can follow the below steps:
- Finding out the main content of one sentence
- Figuring out the predicate phrases, subjective phrases, proposition phrases and the subordinate clause.
- Paying attention to the inserted phrase and other fixed matching words.
Here are two sentences shown:
1． In Africa I met a boy, who was crying as if his heart would break and said, when I spoke to him, that he was hungry because he had no food for two days.
Let us analysis this sentence, we will found the main clause is “I met a boy”, “Who was crying… (and) said” is attributive clause, modify the word “boy”, “as if his heart would break” is adverbial clause, modifying the phrase “was crying”, and “that he was hungry” is the objective clause of “said”. This part “because he had no food for two days” is the adverbial clause of reason— the word “Hungry”. And “when I spoke to him” is the inserted phrase between “said” and “that he was hungry because”. So the translation will be “在非洲，我遇到一个哭的很伤心的男孩。于是我问了他，他说他饿，他已经两天没吃东西了”。
2． The school, he said, consisted of one class of twenty-four boys, ranging in age from seven to thirteen.
The school,…, consisted of one class of twenty four boys— the main clause
He said—the inserted phrase
Ranging from seven to thirteen— the present participle phrase, modifying “boys”