“妈妈太老了，不过头发没有全白，脸上也没出现几颗老人斑，只是腰背微驼”如按原文次序直译为 Mother is very old, but her hair is only partially gray and her face has few old age speckles. She is a bit stooped，前后两句缺乏连贯性。现把两句合译为Mother is a bit stooped with age, but her hair is only partially gray and her face has few old age speckles，条理就较清楚。又“没有全白”可译为only partially gray或only partly gray。
“手指也弯曲了”如直译为The fingers were twisted（或crooked），似言过其实。应按“手指也变形了（或变了样）”译为The fingers looked quite out of shape（或shapeless），较为确切。
“我给你做”译为I’ll make one for you all right，其中短语all right用来加重语气，作“无疑”、“确实”等解。
“发现妈妈依然坐在缝纫机前”译为I was surprised to find her still sitting at the sewing machine，其中surprised作“意外”解，是译文中的添加词，原文虽无其词而有其意。
“缝了拆，拆了缝”译为unstitching what she had sewn or re-sewing what she had unstitched，也可简化为unstitching or re-sewing。
“要手扶墙壁”译为with a groping hand on the wall for support，其中groping是译文中的添加词，作“触摸”解。
“围着被”意即“肩上披着被”，应译with a quilt draped over her shoulders，不应按字面直译为covered by a quilt，with a quilt around her等。
“可是手不听使唤，缝不成了”译为but she couldn’t make it, her fingers being all thumbs with age，其中her fingers being all thumbs源于成语one’s fingers are all thumbs，作“手指笨拙”、“手指不灵巧”解。此句也可译为but, being all thumbs with age, she just couldn’t make it。
“妈妈劳动了一生，我回想了一下”译为Mother has been diligent with her hands all her life即可，第二句可不译。又第一句的意思是“妈妈一生爱用双手劳动”，如按字面直译为Mother has been working all her life，内涵不尽相同。
◎ Gao Mang
Mother is a bit stooped with age, but her hair is only partially gray and her face has few old age speckles. Her small and thin stature, however, is shorter than thirty years ago by a head. And nothing seems to remain of her two hands but a few blue veins and bones. The fingers looked quite out of shape like broken twigs still hanging on to trees. Sometimes, looking at her own hands, she will say in self-ridicule,“How can I still call them my fingers? They’re chicken claws ….”At this, my heart invariably aches.
When I was a child, I remember, mother used to wash my hair, my body and my feet with her delicate soft hands. As her hands ran over me gently, what a feeling of comfort and warmth came over me!
Once, when I was a schoolboy, my teacher wanted me to play the part of a squirrel in a children’s play. I worried very much about the stage costume that, according to the teacher, had to be provided by myself. Mother set my heart at ease by saying,“Don’t worry! I’ll make one for you all right ….”Thereupon, she bought a piece of gray cotton flannel and started cutting it out and sewing. On the early morning of the third day, when I woke up, I was surprised to find her still sitting at the sewing machine. She smilingly showed me the stage costume for a squirrel with a bushy tail. I tried it on. It was perfect. At that time, nevertheless, little did I ponder about mother having spent quite a few sleepless nights toiling for her son’s sake.
When I was older, I would nestle by mother’s side and watch her embroidering brilliant flowers on a piece of cloth. She worked attentively and meticulously, unstitching what she had sewn or re-sewing what she had unstitched, always doing all over again whatever she considered inadequate. When fresh flowers, green leaves and flying birds eventually appeared on the cloth, I seemed to smell the faint scent of flowers and plants and hear the tweeting of birds. Mother had made an embroidered pillowcase for me. I was overjoyed. When I lay with my head pillowed on it, I felt as if her hand were fondly caressing my face and warming my heart, and I were no longer disturbed by bad dreams.
Everything that mother makes by hand is delicate and nice-looking, and she keeps trying to do better. During the so-called“Cultural Revolution”, when I was sent to a farm school, I, like all other scholars in the field of foreign literature, was denied access to foreign literary books. So I took the opportunity to learn sewing instead. Only then did I fully realize how for scores of years mother had toiled away at making clothes for my elder brothers and me.
When did her hands start to become so rough? She is old. Her hands are now too enfeebled to do even needlework or cooking. When she walks, she has to move along with a groping hand on the wall for support. Consequently, the wall now bears traces of the wear and tear of the continual touching of her hand.
Several years ago, to celebrate her 90th birthday, I decided to make her by myself a suit of clothes for everyday wear, consisting of a short coat and a pair of trousers, thinking that it would be the best gift possible from her son and that it would surely delight her much.
As she received the clothes on her birthday, her face brightened up with smiles. That night, I had blissful hours of sleep.
Around midnight, I woke up to find lamplight coming in through the crack of her door. I wondered if she was staying up late or had gone to bed forgetting to put out the lamplight. I got out of bed and peeping into her room through the crack, I saw her sitting on the bed with a quilt draped over her shoulders. With a pair of presbyopic glasses on, she was holding in her hands the suit of clothes I had made and examining it closely. Then she slowly fished out from somewhere a pair of small scissors. What was she up to? I held my breath. Good Heavens! So she was going to unstitch with her trembling hands the new clothes I had specially made for her. My heart sank. O mother, that was the suit your 60-year-old son had made for you! Why were you going to unstitch it rather than wear it?
Several days later, I couldn’t hold back the question in my mind any more. She stared into my eyes for quite a while and then said,“Your needlework isn’t up to standard. The stitches are untidy and uneven. The whole thing is crude… That’s not the way to go about your work.”She had the whole suit unstitched and wanted to re-sew it behind my back, but she just couldn’t make it, her fingers being all thumbs with age. Looking at her tremulous wizened hands, she sighed.
Mother has been diligent with her hands all her life. She always saw to it that she was faultless in whatever she did. Now she is too old to work, but she is very strict with my performance.
The sight of mother’s hands always plunges me into deep thought: Her teaching goes far beyond the making of good clothes.
Referring to the“May Seventh Cadre School”set up in the countryside across China in accordance with Mao Zedong’s“May 7th Directive”issued during the so-called“Cultural Revolution”（1966—1976）, to which innumerable intellectuals, government officials, etc. were sent to do physical labour.