99 Red Balloons in Afrikaans?

by subacati

Having just discovered that this song from childhood was originally sung in German, I wondered about the original lyrics. The English lyrics barely made much sense and I could never figure out why the balloons were specifically red! :left:

Of, course, since I don't speak German, I decided to use Google. In The hopes of getting a less distorted translation, I felt that it would make sense to translate into Afrikaans. As I am reasonably fluent in Afrikaans, and since German an Afrikaans have almost identical grammar, I expected a near perfect rendering of German to Afrikaans.

I was wrong! Google clearly needs to work on their translation algorithm when translating lyrics! :irked:

Here is my translation, which is a much better version than Google's! :whistle: …


Het jy vir my, 'n oomblikjie,
Dan sing ek vir jou 'n kort lidjie.
Van nege'n negentig ballon
Op pad na die horison
Dink jy dalk nou net aan my
Dan sing ek vir jou die wy'
Van nege'n negentig ballon
En dat daar eits daarvan sou kom.

Nege'n negentig ballon
Op pad na die horison
Hul was as OVV's beskou
Daarom stuur die Generaal
'n eskader toe agterna
Alarm te gee, en daar bewaar
Dwaal daar aan die horison
Net nege'n negentig ballon

Nege'n negentig vegvliegtuie
Elkeen was 'n groot bakleier
Hulleself gesien as "Captain Kirk"
Dit was 'n helse vuurgeveg
Die buurland het mos niks beryk
Gevoelens seer en humeur te kwyt
Daarom geskiet te horison
Op nege'n negentig ballon

Nege'n negentig oorlogsmeneer-
Vuurhoutjies en petrolkanne-
Soos slim wat nou sy baas gaan vang
Verwagtend aan 'n grote beurs
Oorlog verklaar en wou verkrag
Man, wie sou dit verwag
Dat daar eenkeer so veel kan kom
Van nege'n negentig ballon.

Nege'n negentig Jaar beklei
Los geen plek oor vir die wenner
Oorlogsmeneer bestaan nie meer
En ook geen bewegsvlieftuie
Deesdae sweef om my rond
Sien die wêreld geteisterd lê
Het net een ballon gekry
Aan jou gedink, en nou's hy vry

I've had to take some major liberties with the Afrikaans language such as dropping the obligatory double negatives. My Afrikaans teachers would be so proud, not! :p

Despite this, I feel that I have done a fair job here. At least it's still the same song, which cannot be said of the English version which loses so much in translation! 😥

Truth is, I really never understood this song. The English lyrics are just shy of being nonsense. Yet the original is so profound and deep! :eyes:

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