Piscine Couverte

“Piscine couverte” – a sign in Normandy last Saturday. But what does it mean? How do we translate it? Word for word, “piscine” means “swimming pool”, and “couvert” means “covered”‘ with the final -e showing that the adjective agrees with the feminine noun “piscine”. “Swimming pool covered”? We can handle three words for two, and switching round the noun and adjective, so “covered swimming pool” is fine. But even this isn’t quite right, as our English doesn’t mean what the French means: a “covered swimming pool” is an outdoor pool with a temporary cover placed over it, whereas a “piscine couverte” means what we call an “indoor swimming pool”.
And it gets more complicated. The concepts underlying “piscine” and “swimming pool” are different anyway, as pools in these countries differ architecturally and in their social function and significance.
And there are the etymological undertones: “piscine” meant a fishpond…

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