I'm creating a piece language learning software, which will include a component that lets the user read texts with a translation on the side. The texts will be chopped up into segments, and have the feature that, if you hold your mouse over a certain segment, the corresponding segment in the translation is highlighted, so that you can easily keep track of where in the text you are.
The question is, how small can I make these chunks, before translation between different languages would be unnatural, stilted or impossible?
The safest thing to do would be to simply cut the text in pieces at full stops. This however, would lead to certain really long sentences, in which the reader easily could lose track of where she is, thus making the program a lot less useful.
The question then is, could I cut the sentences into smaller portions than complete sentences, and still expect every part to be translatable on its own into various languages? If so, where would I make the cut?
For example: "He was a poor man who certainly would not be able to afford this car"
Is it reasonable to expect that I here could cut this sentence in two, between man and who? Can I expect all languages to have the structure necessary to cut this sentence into two logical pieces like this?
I mean, I'm thinking that, since for example in Spanish, the subject of a phrase is usually omitted (as it is expressed by the conjugation of the verb), I could not segment my sentences into phrase constituents without running into trouble if translating my program into Spanish.
As there is a possibility that my language will be translated into languages whose structure I'm completely unaware of, I need to chope the sentences up in a way so that I'm sure not to get any unpleasant surprises during translation.
So what I'm wondering is how I can chop up my sentences without avoiding trouble when trying to translate the individual parts into different languages.
I hope I have phrased my issue clearly. Any insight on this matter is much appreciated!