L'essentiel (English translation)

  • Artist: Ginette Reno (Ginette Raynault)
  • Song: L'essentiel 2 translations
  • Translations: English, German
English translationEnglish

The Main Thing [Literally: The Essential / The Key]

The main thing is to be loved
Everything else doesn't really make a difference by comparison
Being loved is the only truth that matters to anyone
And whatever happens, remember to keep that truth within
and never let it go
Being loved is about getting back as much as we give out
Never questioning whether we belong, or needing any reassurance
It's how we melt when we feel each others' warmth
It's about earning trust, and about personal growth
The main thing is to be loved
Above anything else you could possibly think of
Fame and fortune don't matter at all
They blow away with the wind
It's the little efforts we make that really count
Such as being expected somewhere and running all the way there as not to be late
The little gifts are what make life worth living
Like when someone says our name in such a way that sounds genuine and kind
What's important are the day-to-day experiences
It's how our hearts leap when a happy child rushes to greet us
When we have arms around us, how could we ask for any more?
Whatever happens, love is the only truth that we can rely on
If we were ever exiled to foreign land, what if we had no one in our heart to keep us company?
What is there that is so strong and inspiring it could survive beyond death?
Only love, as it lasts forever and always
My love . . .
Submitted by KodaKoda on Fri, 04/01/2013 - 01:38
Added in reply to request by cliffordseverincliffordseverin
Author's comments:

This is not a completely word-for-word translation, but is mainly literal and comes as close to the intended meaning as I could manage. I am a native Canadian English speaker, and learned French in school, but I am not fluent in French. There were a few ambiguous sections that I went with my gut on. Contact me if you would like to discuss these sections, or perhaps someone more fluent in French will be able to correct any mistakes I might have made. I hope this is what you were looking for. ^.^



crimson_anticscrimson_antics    Fri, 04/01/2013 - 01:51

Hi Regular smile
I'm not a native English speaker, but here are some clarifications regarding the meaning of some French parts. Feel free to reword it.

"Le reste importe peu, la seule vérité / The rest doesn't matter much, the only truth
C´est compter pour quelqu´un / Is to matter (be important) for someone
quoiqu´il puisse arriver / No matter what happens
C´est entrer dans son cœur et n´en sortir jamais / It's to enter his enter and never leave it"

"C´est recevoir autant qu´on aimerait donner"
--> ' we'd like to...'

"Ne plus s´appartenir, en être rassuré"
--> 'Not to belong to ourselves anymore, and to be reassured by it (this fact)"

"C´est voir la joie de l´autre et fondre de bonheur"
--> 'It's how we melt (from happiness?) when we see each other's joy'

"Contrairement à tout ce qu´on peut raconter
Ce n´est pas la fortune ou la célébrité"
--> 'As opposed to what anyone could say,
It isn't fortune or fame"

"Qui ne sont que du vent et ne font que passer"
--> 'They're like the wind and only pass us by'

"Such as being expected somewhere"
--> 'Such as being expected (somewhere) at night...'

"Un des plus beaux cadeaux / One of the most beautiful gifts
que nous ait fait la vie / Which life gives us
c´est quand notre prénom / Is when our name
a l´air d´un mot gentil / Sounds like a nice word"

"Jour à près jour"
--> 'Day after day'

"être un jour exiler en pays étranger
et avoir, dans son cœur, quelqu´un à qui parler"
--> "To someday be exiled in a foreign land
And have, in our hearts, someone to talk to"

"C´est inspirer à l´autre un sentiment si fort
Qu´il pourrait nous survivre au-delà de la mort"
--> 'It's to inspire to the other a feeling so strong
That it could last beyond our death"

"C´est d´être aimé, encore et toujours"
--> 'It's to be loves, again and forever"

I hope this helps Regular smile

KodaKoda    Fri, 04/01/2013 - 01:57

The translations you suggest are a bit too direct for my liking. As I think the meaning of the song has to be worded slightly differently in English and French for it to have the same power for both audiences. The translations you suggest are bit like a computer might make, with word-for-word transliterations rather than trying to phrase match like I have done. For now I won't be making changes to the translation. But thank-you anyway.

crimson_anticscrimson_antics    Fri, 04/01/2013 - 01:59

The problem with your translation is that you link sentences that do not go together, which completely changes the meaning of the song. I have no problem with re-wording, when it doesn't alter the text.

KodaKoda    Fri, 04/01/2013 - 02:33

Those were the areas I mentioned in my author's comment that I might have to discuss with the original poster. I realize I linked some parts, and left other parts unlinked that were linked in the original. I did this because I tried to word it differently at first, more literally that is, but it just didn't sound right to me meaning wise, so I took greater artistic liberties with some lines over others. But I disagree that the song is "completely changed" it retains the main meaning. If there are specific areas that really bug you, I'd be happy to discuss them in detail. As I said, I'm not fluent in French, so although my English version makes perfect sense and flows logically in English, it, as you said in so many words, is not a carbon copy of the French version by any stretch of the imagination. I was just trying to intuit what the original poster of the song request seemed to be asking for.

To the original poster: Please do take a look at the translation notes of the poster above me, perhaps you'll want to use a more literal version than I have posted. Some of lines that poster suggests are very literal in meaning and in word count.

Edit: I'm finding it difficult to rework this without screwing it up. Sad smile You see, the reason I took so many liberties is because one line would translate into something that just didn't work or make any sense, but the next lines would be dependent on the meaning of the line that didn't make sense, so to make it all make sense, the whole stanza had to be "tweaked", but I might have missed the mark in a few areas . . . i really want the whole thing to be logical, and reflect the main point of the song in all sections, but I can't do that AND be literal unfortunately. I guess I, or somebody else, might have to post an alternative to my translation, a separate directly literal one.

BartabasseBartabasse    Wed, 15/07/2015 - 13:26


Thanks for your helpful amendments to the original translation. I tend to agree with you; the inital work substantially alters the meaning of the lyrics. Although it's not great to go with a "computer like" translation, which I think is not the case in your proposal, I think it's even worse to provide a misleading translation.

Thanks to the both of you for the time spent on this translation anyway.

KodaKoda    Fri, 04/01/2013 - 01:54

This was the first time I translated a song before listening to it, as I usually make indirect singable translations that are rhythm and rhyme matched to the original. I have to say though, upon listening just now, Reno has a beautiful and tightly controlled contralto. (:

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