ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Visiting the Japanese Garden, Monaco: abstract microcosm with complex linguistic nuances

Updated on June 1, 2011
Flag of Monaco
Flag of Monaco | Source
Monaco's Japanese Garden
Monaco's Japanese Garden | Source
Monaco's Japanese Garden
Monaco's Japanese Garden | Source
Map of Monaco
Map of Monaco | Source

'Cercis silquastrum' — a Principality's national language rises to the challenge

The garden heritage of the Principality of Monaco is highly absorbing. My tentative boldness to make these few eclectic comments arises from a visit to Monaco's Japanese Garden.

The garden was planned following the wishes of HSH Prince Rainier III and opened in 1994. It thus adds yet more to the already outstanding garden endowments of the Principality.

With the tradition of the Japanese garden, a tendency to abstraction is projected. But as with any horticultural treasures, specific plants and trees add greatly to the value of the living collection.

In Monaco's Japanese Garden, among its particularly valuable possessions is a fine specimen of the Cercis silquastrum ; let me give it first its Linnéan, Latin designation. The common English name is Judas Tree, but therein lies some history. While the Bible relates in various passages that Judas hanged himself after betraying Christ, extra-Biblical tradition holds that he did so from what in English is called the Judas Tree.

So, what about the French term for Cercis silquastrum? can Anglophones just assume that in French one says Arbre de Judas, for Cercis silquastrum?

This is where the matter becomes intriguing. Monaco is a Francophone country, certainly, but in French the usual term for Cercis silquastrum is actually Arbre de Judée , (that is, tree of Judea), and not Arbre de Judas. Back to the English, not because it is the ultimate referent but because it is the language of this article: why does English have Judas Tree ? Well, it is thought that the English usage — widely accepted — is actually a corruption of the French term. Cercis silquastrum occurs in Judea, Lebanon, Syria, and other areas of Western Asia and so the original French term is certainly not mythological.

Thus with Latin, English, French.

In Monégasque — which is designated the national language of Monaco — what would be the equivalent term? Well, alas, I have not been able to find any specific reference to a Monégasque equivalent for Cercis silquastrum, but we may have some clues. In the words of Louis Frolla , the Monégasque lexicographer, the study of the Romance languages is an 'inexhaustible source of precious information about the evolution and interdependence of the neo-Latin languages' (1). In the spirit of that dynamic interdependence which Louis Frolla so rightly highlighted, we can make some assumptions.

First of all, Italian does have,albero di Giuda , 'tree of Judas', i.e., as if the legend of Judas choosing a Cercis silquastrum has exercised a preponderant appeal. But then, it gets more nuanced, because in Italian the term albero di Guidea , 'tree of Judea', for Cercis silquastrum, also has some currency.

So, how about another language of the region? In Corsican — and Corsica has longstanding cultural links with Monaco — both arburi di Ghjuda and arburi di Ghjudea occur. Again, 'occur' here can be somewhat nuanced, because where writers proficient in Corsican may occasionally refer in that medium to a local equivalent for Cercis silquastrum , is it always because of a personal memory of a pre-existing occurrence of either of these forms? or is it, rather, on the basis of applying the dynamic of Corsican to a knowledge of other Romance language equivalents? I leave the question open.

So, regarding a horticultural treasure in Monaco, and a national treasure — the language: to the question of how does one say — or how would one say — Judas Tree in Monégasque, my best guess (and it is only a guess) is that since either àrburu de Giüda and àrburu de Giüdea are quite possible, then — as with Italian and Corsican — neither of these forms would be unsatisfactory. But better and more knowledgeable minds than mine may come to other conclusions.

Indeed, the question and the possible answer are as nuanced as the symbolism in a Japanese garden ... .

...and an interesting literary allusion

But then it gets more interesting because the tradition in question gave rise to the 1961 novel The Judas Tree , by the writer A. J. Cronin, who, even more interestingly, lived in Cap-d'Ail, a neighbouring French town, adjoining Monaco. But let us not jump to conclusions: it cannot have been this Judas Tree in Monaco's Japanese Garden which inspired Cronin's reflections, because the Japanese Garden was not planted until 1994, some decades after Cronin published his novel.

But, then, there is a specimen of the Cercis silquastrum in Monaco's Exotic Garden (Jardin exotique de Monaco) ...

Monaco's garden heritage is indeed highly absorbing, I think. And so is its dynamic, linguistic heritage.


(1) Louis Frolla, Grammaire Monégasque , Monaco: Comité national des traditions monégasques, 1998, p. x


How to get there: Delta Airlines flies direct from New York to Nice, France (Aéroport Nice Côte d'Azur ). Nice airport is a 7-minute helicopter flight from Monaco's heliport (Héliport de Monaco ). There are also bus links from the airport to Monaco. The French railroad company SNCF maintains services to Monaco from Downtown Nice. For North American travellers making the London, England area their touring base, airlines flying to Nice include easyJet, from London Luton Airport. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

For your visit, these items may be of interest


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)