Generally, long sentence translation has been regarded as one of the major difficulties in contract translation. When translating contract English, we often meet the situation where English sentences are long while Chinese sentences are relatively short. This brings us difficulties in translation works. That’s to say, we need to change the form of sentences, making them what they should be.
In order to make sure that every aspect is considered and written into a contract, the sentences used in the contract is long and complex. “Generally speaking, it is normal to see long sentences here and there in a contract. sentences which may run as long as 6-7 lines can be found here and there, greatly outrunning the average length of an English sentence (17 words)”7. Therefore, the following methods should be mastered in translating long sentences.
It is known to all that English sentences used in the contract are long and complex. They usually consist of several compositions in sentences which are not so closely related to each other. However, in Chinese, sentences are relatively short. Sometimes in translation, a long English sentence can be divided into several parts in Chinese. Therefore, when translating business contract, the method of division is often adopted. First, divide long English sentences into several parts reasonably according to the different meanings of each part. Then translate them on the basis of Chinese ideological order.
E.g. “International counter trade is a practice whereby a supplier commits contractually —as a condition of sale—to reciprocate and undertake certain specified commercial initiatives that compensate and benefit the buyer”8.
As the example listed above, the sentence is long and complex and contains several parts. Thus it is hard for people to translate. Therefore, this kind of sentences should be divided into several parts reasonably according to the different meanings of each part. The example is divided into three parts in Chinese.
In the first part, international counter trade acts as a condition of sale; then, international counter trade means that the supplier commits contractually; at last, International counter trade serves as a practice which is to reciprocate and undertake certain specified commercial initiatives that compensate and benefit the buyer. After the division, translation becomes so easy if we translate them on the basis of Chinese ideological order.
Read Also: Translation Criteria of Business Contracts
Generally, the structure of English long sentences is not the same as that of Chinese. From the perspectives of the logic relationships and the time order, English long sentences are made of first conclusions and then reasons, conditions and subjects or attitudes and fact, etc.
However, the Chinese structure is just the opposite side sometimes. Therefore, in English-Chinese translation, the structure should be inversed to convey the original contract faithfully and expressively. That’s to say, the translation of those sentences should start from the back parts and then to the former parts.
E.g. “This may occur if the corporation is capitalized with too little equity capital (owner’s money) as compared to the debt capital (borrowed money), also known as “thin capitalization”, under circumstances amounting to fraud or other improprieties in dealing with creditors”(Translation Business English 38).
From the example, we can know clearly how inversion works in translation. First of all, grasp the overall information of the sentence, and then translate it from the back part to the former part.
In the sentence, the last part “under circumstances amounting to fraud or other improprieties in dealing with creditors” is translated as the first part “在相当于诈骗或其他针对债权人的不当行为的情况下”in Chinese. Meanwhile, the first part “this may occur” is translated as the last part “便会出现这种现象”in Chinese. This inversion method makes the translated contracts conform to the Chinese logical order.