baths [swimming]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by HSS, Aug 21, 2014.

  1. HSS

    HSS Senior Member

    Sendai, Japan
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    baths

    This use of baths, I have not been familiar with it. How commonly is it used in writing or conversation, as opposed to 'a pool' or 'a swimming pool'? I ran into it as I was reading the book below, and for a minute I thought Morag took her daughter to a nearby public bath, supposed to be one where you dip and warm yourselves, not to take a swim, for comfort.

    WR dictionary: (usually plural) a place that provides baths or a swimming pool for public use
     
  2. Glasguensis

    Glasguensis Signal Modulation

    Versailles
    English - Scotland
    This is common in British English. It dates from the late 19th century when the only public swimming pools were in public bath houses.
     
  3. e2efour

    e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 76)
    UK English
    I have always said the baths or swimming baths. But if you look in the yellow pages in the UK, you will see that they call themselves (Public) Swimming Pools.

    To me, a swimming pool is something that goes with your house, e.g. in countries like Spain or Portugal.

    Language changes!
     
  4. HSS

    HSS Senior Member

    Sendai, Japan
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    Hi. You wouldn't call the same facility a (swimming) pool, Glasguensis?

    Edit: Now that I see e2efour's post, it looks as though 'a (swimming) pool' is taking its place for a facility that is open to the public for swimming.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2014
  5. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    In BE, it is very common. It is the usual informal word but it used in the context above. The essence is that (i) it is open to the public. e.g. a hotel would not have "baths" in the sense of a swimming pool. (ii) the swimming pool itself is enclosed.

    Baths is not used for an open-air swimming pool, even if they were open to the public. (Although once or twice I have heard, "They have got open-air baths in <name of town>." I would consider that wrong usage.)

    Baths also incorporates the idea of changing rooms, showers, and usually diving boards.
     
  6. Glasguensis

    Glasguensis Signal Modulation

    Versailles
    English - Scotland
    Swimming pool is becoming more common, as newer facilities have replaced the old public bath houses. But Morag is (roughly) the same age as me and this is the word I used as a child, and no doubt the word she would use.
     
  7. HSS

    HSS Senior Member

    Sendai, Japan
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    Hi, Paul. I see, so normally swimming baths are inside buildings. Thanks.

    Just as an aside, how could you know this lady is about the same age as you? Is this story famous? She is from Scotland and the story develops there and in the U.S.

     
  8. HSS

    HSS Senior Member

    Sendai, Japan
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    Here, should it be 'baths is,' regarding it as a set of baths? Just crossed my mind.
     
  9. Smauler Senior Member

    Ipswich, Suffolk, England
    British English
    "Baths" is falling away, and becoming archaic. "Pool" is what we call big bits of designed for swimming water.
     
  10. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    Singapore
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I think the 'swimming baths' that you find are older facilities, and I probably wouldn't use it to refer to the newer facilities. The Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh was one I frequented, and it was always a 'swimming pool'. I also used to go to one that was called 'swimming baths' (that has since closed down) in an old building. I would say the baths are for the same reason that I say the trousers are.
     
  11. RM1(SS)

    RM1(SS) Senior Member

    Connecticut
    English - US (Midwest)
    Having seen "swimming baths" dozens of times in British books, I was quite surprised when I first arrived in Dunoon and discovered that they had a public "swimming pool"....
     
  12. HSS

    HSS Senior Member

    Sendai, Japan
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    Hi, Nat. So there is a tendency you say 'swimming pool' rather than 'swimming baths.' And, RM1, so it's British. Even in the UK the word now is 'swimming pool.' I see

    Thanks, both of you.
     
  13. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    Singapore
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Yes, have a look at the Ngram for 'swimming pool' and 'swimming baths' in BrE: same frequency in 1930 but since then 'swimming pool' has massively overtaken 'swimming baths'.
     
  14. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    Several factors influenced the use of baths (always plural). One was often the presence in the same building of slipper baths for washing in - very useful, I can assure you, when you've been digging a sewer all day for your new bathroom and haven't installed your new shower yet! The other factor was that there were often two pools (junior and senior or men's and women's) in the same building. A pool was the standard term for an open-air facility.

    (Context: British Midlands 1946-1976 at least.)

    I'm not sure how much to rely on that ngram, Natkretep - it may simply mean that the private open-air swimming pool has become much more common, and have no relevance to public baths ????
     
  15. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    Roughly my dates too... I don't remember seeing you. :)

    The Ngram changes dramatically if you use the search terms "public swimming pool,public baths".
     
  16. Glasguensis

    Glasguensis Signal Modulation

    Versailles
    English - Scotland
    In that example it should be plural, because it's referring to baths in general, rather than a specific facility. If you were referring to a specific facility you would use the singular : Calder Street Baths is closed for maintenance.

    You gave the reference of the book - I looked it up on an online bookstore and was able to read the first few pages, which told me where she was from and how old she was.
     

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