How to Translate the Long Sentence in Legal Document

In legal translation, due to the differences of language style and sentence structure between English and Chinese, the major difficulty is to translate the “long sentence”. It is very common that one-sentence paragraphs frequently occur in the document and one sentence consists of 50-100 words or even more. Understanding the sentence correctly and organizing the target language logically is the key factor of the translation.

Let’s see the following example.

Each Party hereby agree to indemnify, hold harmless and defend the other Party from and against any and all claims, suits, losses, damages and disbursements (including legal costs) arising out of any alleged or actual breach or failure to comply with the terms and conditions hereof including but not limited to any infringement of the other Party's intellectual property or other rights occurring as a result of the breaching Party's fault, omission or activities in connection with the Project.

This sentence consists of almost 80 words. When translating this sentence, we should first read through it, and then “split” to clarify each part of it. The subject is “Each party”, and the predicate is “agree to”, while “indemnify, hold harmless and defend the other Party from and against any and all claims, suits, losses, damages and disbursements (including legal costs)” is the objects. “arising out of….” and “occurring as a result of…”, both of which indicate the reason, are used to modify “any and all claims, suits, losses, damages and disbursements” and “any infringement of the other Party’s intellectual property or other rights”. By splitting this sentence into such parts, you will have a clear idea of the whole sentence. The next step is to organize the target language. The English language focuses on the beginning of the sentence, indicating that the party agrees to do something (indemnify, hold harmless and defend the other Party), then indicates the reasons for these actions. But in Chinese, we should follow the Chinese logical thinking that firstly indicates the reason, and then the result. See the translation below.


How to understand and translate the long sentences is the key factor of Legal English translation. When you encounter such a long sentence, don’t be irritable. Calm down and try to clarify the sentence structure, you will find the way.

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