This post is a lot heavier than a lead balloon.


Have you got some time for me?

Then let me sing a song for you

About 99 balloons

On their way to the horizon

Perhaps you're thinking about me right now

Then let me sing a song for you

About 99 balloons

And how one thing leads to another.

Youtube is my DJ and it's been very committed to playing the German version of Luftballons for me.  Regularly.  

Even though I don't speak German, I am learning thanks to Youtube's aforementioned commitment.  For example, I can ask you if you have some time for me: "Hast du etwas Zeit für mich?".   Should I ever find myself either in Germany or in the company of a fluent german speaker and I want a few minutes of their precious time, I will be able to ask them for it.   Whoo.  Chalk up a win to Team International Relations.

And whilst this is very interesting and all, it's not actually why I'm blogging about it.

Now you really want to know why I'm blogging about it.   Ooooh the suspense is gripping.

It's because of the lost in translation component.   In the English version, the lyrics are quite different.  For example, compared to the above, the first verse is:  

"You and I in a little toy shop, buy a bag of balloons with the money we've got, set them free at the break of dawn, til one by one, they were gone.  Back at base, bugs in the software flash the message Somethings Out there.  Floating in the summer sky, 99 red balloons go by."

I mean, it's sort of the same, and yet it's quite different.  When the English version was released the band were apparently not pleased as they didn't want to be considered an anti-war protest band - the German version implies war is the unfortunate result of a misunderstanding whereas the English version suggests it was the perfect excuse they were waiting for to start one.

And I only mention this because the translation of Erich Maria Remarque's book title into English is 'All Quiet on the Western Front', when the original translation is 'Nothing New in the West'.  And I only mention this because the variance, while pretty much the same, is slightly different and it comes from the most poignant final paragraph:

He fell in October 1918, on a day that was so quiet and still on the whole front, that the army report confined itself to the single sentence:  nothing new in the West.


Anyway, potato, potato.  Tomato, tomato.  Sunshine and candybars, everyone.