Translating a song is an exercise in both technical translation and poetic expression. I chose "99 Luftballons" as my first translation effort for a number of reasons: I am familiar with the song. The song tells a story. The song has already been translated from German to English, giving me an example from which to work. I can write a version that is faithful to the original lyrics, consistent with the rhythm and meter, and elaborative of the story. (In my opinion, the English version tells a more compelling story than the original German.) In all, it is a quite appropriate exercise.

In the first stanza, I have chosen to tell a story more in line with the English version than the German version.

4 beats per verse. "xx" represents a beat that needs to be added. Unstressed syllables are in subscript.

German Version English Translation Hilinqwo Hilinqwo Literal English Version Beats
Hast Du etwas Zeit für mich If you have some time for me Juos kwek eqos hendit You and I acquire You and I in a little toy shop
Dann singe ich ein Lied fuer Dich Then I'll sing a song for you Pludektom xx-xx-xxxxxx Balloons xxx Buy a bag of balloons with the money we've got.
Von 99 Luftballons About 99 balloons Liberodit þom xxxx Liberate them xxx Set them free at the break of dawn
Auf ihrem Weg zum Horizont On their way to the horizon 'Til one by one, they were gone.
Denkst Du vielleicht grad' an mich Perhaps you think [grad] of me Adir kampon ersosit At campus, something malfunctions Back at base, bugs in the software
Dann singe ich ein Lied fuer Dich Then I'll sing a song for you Flash the message, Something's out there.
Von 99 Luftballons About 99 balloons Werwejit æsti'cælon Going towards the horizon in the summer sky. Floating in the summer sky.
Und dass sowas von sowas kommt And that something comes from something Newn'g'newnis pludektos. [are] 99 balloons. 99 red balloons go by.
99 Luftballons 99 balloons Newn'g'newnis pludektos 99 balloons 99 red balloons.
Auf ihrem Weg zum Horizont On their way to the horizon Werwejit æsti'cælon. go towards the horizon in the summer sky. floating in the summer sky.
Hielt man fuer UFOs aus dem All Were considered UFOs from outer space Qæapis xx xx-xx-xx-xx Things from outer space ("off the earth") Panic bells, it's red alert.
Darum schickte ein General So a General sends Miti avarom Send the planes to intercept There's something here from somewhere else.
Eine Fliegerstaffel hinterher a jet squadron to investigate1 The war machine springs to life.
Alarm zu geben, wenn es so war Sound the alarm, if there was Rajinodi Give an alert Opens up one eager eye.
Dabei war da am Horizont Because there were on the horizon Werwejit æsti'cælon Going towards the horizon in the summer sky. Focusing it on the sky.
Nur 99 Luftballons Only 99 balloons. Newn'g'newnis pludektos are 99 balloons. Where 99 red balloons go by.
99 Duesenjaeger 99 jet fighters Newn'g'newnis qran'avos 99 great planes 99 Decision Street.
Jeder war ein grosser Krieger Everyone was a great warrior Newn'g'newnis qran'milos 99 great warriors 99 ministers meet.
Hielten sich fuer Captain Kirk thought of himself as Captain Kirk Kaputo Kyro2 [everyone's a] Captain Kirk To worry, worry, super-scurry.
Das gab ein grosses Feuerwerk There were great fireworks Pyrxxx xxx Fire(works) Call the troops out in a hurry.
Die Nachbarn haben nichts gerafft The neighbors have gathered This is what we've waited for.
Und fuehlten sich gleich angemacht and felt nothing like this makes it This is it boys, this is war.
Dabei schoss man am Horizont zeroed in on the horizon The president is on the line
Auf 99 Luftballons At 99 balloons Newn'g'newnis pludektos 99 balloons As 99 red balloons go by.
99 Kriegsminister 99 Ministers of War Newn'g'newnis qran'milos 99 generals 99 Knights of the air
Streichholz und Benzinkanister matches and gasoline canisters Pyrortodos, petripados Firestarters and gasoline Ride super-high-tech jet fighters
Hielten sich fuer schlaue Leute smart people talking, (?) Plenoos plelogorit Lots of knowledgeable people making lots of speeches. Everyone's a superhero.
Witterten schon fette Beute looting, Plerapit plesiqendit Lots of looting, lots of scoring. Everyone's a Captain Kirk.
Riefen: Krieg und wollten Macht scoring: war and wanted power War and wanted power. With orders to identify.
Mann, wer haette das gedacht Man, who would have thought that Man, who would have thought that To clarify and classify.
Dass es einmal soweit kommt this all started because of this all started because of Scramble in the summer sky.
Wegen 99 Luftballons 99 balloons Newn'g'newnis pludektos! 99 balloons! As 99 red balloons go by.
99 Jahre Krieg 99 years of war Newn'g'newnis anos bel' 99 years of war. 99 dreams I have had.
Liessen keinen Platz fuer Sieger left no room for winning Qran'milaros mortendat-i The generals are dead. In every one a red balloon.
Kriegsminister gibt es nicht mehr The Secretary of War is no more Qran'avarom devedat. The fleets of planes were sent away. It's all over and I'm standing pretty.
Und auch keine Duesenflieger and no more jet planes Mundos vastus', no' nikendat. The world is destroyed, nobody won. In this dust that was a city.
Heute zieh ich meine Runden Today I see that3 Eqos zakarorgit xx I want a souvenir If I could find a souvenir
Seh die Welt in Truemmern liegen The world is in ruins. Fanios mundos entat. Proof that the world existed. Just to prove the world was here.
Hab' nen Luftballon gefunden And I found a balloon. Sok unos pludektos stit. I have only one balloon left4 And here is a red balloon
Denk' an Dich und lass' ihn fliegen I think of you and let it fly. Pondit juom liberodit. I think of you and let it go. I think of you and let it go.