99 Luftballons (English translation)

English translation

99 Balloons

Versions: #1#2#3#4
Stay where you are, don’t move from here:
I know a song you’ll want to hear
About ninety-nine balloons
Floating high up as the moon.
Do you think of me, far or near?
I know a song you’ll want to hear
About ninety-nine balloons,
And how they brought us to our doom.
There were ninety-nine balloons
Floating high up as the moon.
They looked a bit like alien craft;
A general sent a squadron aft(er)
Them, each man a flying ace,
To check if this could be the case,
But all there was was the full moon
And the ninety-nine balloons.
Ninety-nine ace fighter pilots,
Jumpy, prideful and misguided,
Took themselves for Captain Kirk,
And shot their heavy fireworks.
The neighbours on the ground took fright,
And soon were spoiling for a fight,
Even though the air platoon
Shot just the ninety-nine balloons.
Ninety-nine war ministers
Struck matches against petrol canisters.
They thought they were oh so clever;
Dreamed of spoils and power forever.
They called for war to be fought;
Oh, who ever would have thought
That our end would come so soon
Thanks to those ninety-nine balloons?
Just those ninety-nine balloons!
Just those ninety-nine balloons!
Ninety-nine long years of war;
There are no winners any more.
No ministers of war trade threats;
You don’t get many fighter jets.
On my daily rounds today,
Among the ruins and decay,
I found a balloon, let it go,
And then I remembered you.
Submitted by Dude Wheres My Username on Wed, 03/12/2014 - 03:02
Author's comments:

Close but idiomatic translation with original rhyme scheme and metre.

Translation source:
Your rating: None Average: 1 (2 votes)

99 Luftballons

Questionfinder    Sun, 27/09/2015 - 15:02

I edited this transcription for some small grammar and spelling mistakes, but there is one correction that will effect translations:

Alarm zu geben, wenn's war ---->Alarm zu geben, wenn es so wär

saturnus21    Mon, 05/10/2015 - 18:04

Makes no sense to any of its intended sense!

Sciera    Mon, 05/10/2015 - 18:10

It's a very free adaptation, but for that it's quite close in general meaning to the original text. Since the author mentioned that it's a rhyming translation I think your vote is not justified.

Actually, I think it's really well done.

Jon Mapp    Fri, 29/01/2016 - 10:26

This is just so utterly wrong I can't even begin to explain

Sciera    Fri, 29/01/2016 - 18:51

As I explained, I disagree with these bad votes. I however wouldn't rate it as it's an adaptation, not a literal translation.

Questionfinder    Sat, 30/01/2016 - 03:49

Even rating it as a literal translation, a one-star rating is unnecessarily harsh, and I don't think the comments offer a real explanation for their ratings.

Jon Mapp    Wed, 10/02/2016 - 13:08

It has a one star rating because it has no grounding to the song whatsoever.

Stay where you are, don’t move from here: - Totally incorrect
I know a song you’ll want to hear - Totally incorrect
About ninety-nine balloons - correct
Floating high up as the moon. = Totally incorrect
Do you think of me, far or near? - totally incorrect
I know a song you’ll want to hear - totally incorrect
About ninety-nine balloons, - correct
And how they brought us to our doom. - totally incorrect...

Would you like me to continue?

Questionfinder    Wed, 10/02/2016 - 23:02

There are other ways to give a detailed comment without correcting the song line by line. You could simply say that most of the lines are incorrect, if the standard for correctness is literal translation.

"No grounding to the song whatsoever" is an over-exaggeration. I have a preference for literal translations myself, so I agree that according to my own tastes, as a translation, it's not very good. It's not a complete re-writing though, and overall, it catches the gist of the original lines and meaning.

Taking into account the fact that the translation rhymes and as close to the original meaning as it is shows that the author took a lot of time and effort into making the translation, and is a laudable effort in any case.

Jon Mapp    Wed, 10/02/2016 - 13:17

Hast du etwas Zeit für mich

Have you any time for me / do you have some time for me...

Where on earth they got "stay where you are don't move from here I will never ever know.

Dann singe ich ein Lied für dich

Then Sing I a song for you / then I will sing a song for you

Nothing about knowing a song you'll want to hear????

Von 99 Luftballons

Finally, something that's actually close to the meaning. but let's face it, this one is hard to get wrong.

Auf ihrem Weg zum Horizont

An their way to the horizon

But you felt the need to reference the moon for some reason, or them being high up? Their height is not mentioned at all.

Denkst du vielleicht g'rad' an mich

If you're thinking of me maybe

Again, just words sandwiched in there, near or far??! also it's not a question, they're not asking if you're thinking about them in any way

Dann singe ich ein Lied für dich

then I'll sing a song for you

Same mistakes as line 2

Von 99 Luftballons

phew, these easier ones really do bring up the average star rating... another one correct

Und dass sowas von sowas kommt

And how such a time / something can come from such a thing

No mention of doom

Can you seriously argue that this is worth more than one star? This isn't an "artistic interpretation" site, it's a translation site.

Sciera    Wed, 10/02/2016 - 21:03

I almost have the impression you don't know what an adaptation even is: It's a poem based on another poem in a different language, often being very similar in both content and form.

And while the website rules don't mention adaptations (we didn't even think about including those in them when the rules were written since it had never been a matter of discussion or problems), such artistic translations have been added by many users here and I have very rarely seen any user here have a problem with such. Since it's mentioned beneath the translation that it's not a literal one, there even won't be any misunderstanding.
Well, if you insist I could ask the admins to add a paragraph to the FAQ's article on ratings. But it didn't seem necessary so far.

Argonaut    Tue, 17/04/2018 - 07:28

I was intrigued by the one star review. Now I see. At least you tried. Nice one tho.
It's a shame that some mistake your effort for a bad translation. And that is one hell of an effort to try to make it rime.