Ce n’est que justice.
snay kuh zhew-STEESS. Click below to hear the sound file!
It’s only fair.
Looks like a simple, straightforward word, doesn’t it? Yet la justice has many meanings, and appears in many expressions, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post (see Je l’ai échappé belle).
The expression above, for starters. Remember that ne…que is a negative expression that follows the pattern of ne…pas, but it doesn’t translate as a negative in English. The usual translation in English is only, but if it helps you to keep thinking of it as a negative, try nothing but.
Then there’s the cognate (a word that looks the same in both languages), justice. Of course fairness has to do with justice. Passer en justice (paa-SAY ah zhew-STEESS) means to stand trial. Aller en justice (aa-LAY ah zhew-STEESS) means to take the case to court. Note that passer implies undergoing something, perhaps involuntarily, whereas aller implies doing something active, of your own volition. That’s why two different verbs are used for these two similar expressions, having to do with both sides of the justice coin.
La justice also means law or the law, so La justice le recherche means The law is looking for him. (Rechercher is related to the English word research. The law is consulting sources of information in an effort to track his whereabouts.)
Finally, there’s rendre la justice (rah-druh lah zhew-STEESS, to dispense or render justice) vs. se faire justice (suh fair zhew-STEESS), which does not mean to give oneself justice, but rather to take the law into one’s own hands. The French Etc. blog discusses the implication of se faire: it means to offer oneself a treat. Taking the law into your own hands is a form of self-indulgence.