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German word of the day: Die Sollbruchstelle

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German word of the day: Die Sollbruchstelle
Photo: depositphotos
This content was produced independently by The Local and contains advertiser links.
14:36 CET+01:00
Today we look at a word that is so German that even some Germans can’t believe it actually exists – Die Sollbruchstelle.

Die Sollbruchstelle is literally translated to ought-to-break-point. And if you are lost in translation now, let me explain: It is a point on a device that is predetermined to break after a short period of usage.

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Let’s take a new mobile phone. You buy it and it works perfectly. After about a year it still works quite well – except that the device’s battery seems to start having its faults, even though it was never in any situation where it could have broken.

That is what Germans call a Sollbruchstelle – because of course the German language has a word for such a thing. 

Because once you walk to the store after finding out your nearly new device doesn’t work anymore, desperate to repair it and buy a new battery, the companies make profit. Just because they designed it so that the battery would break quickly. 

Avoiding Sollbruchstellen is a tricky business, because they are usually found everywhere. Not just in technical devices, but also in mechanical things (when, for example, the screws holding together a product just don’t seem to last as long as you expected them to).

Sollbruchstellen aren’t always bad though. Sometimes they are meant to help you separate different materials from each other to make the recycling of a used thing easier.

Or when an object that is regularly used needs a new part, there might be a small, pre-made crack that allows you to break off this part at the predetermined place. 

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You can at least remove the sim card (if not the battery itself) when the battery reaches its Sollbruchstelle. Photo: DPA

All in all, Sollbruchstelle is a word so German that even some Germans don’t understand its true meaning. 

Examples:

Sie können den alten Griff an der Sollbruchstelle abbrechen.

You can break off the old handle at its predetermined breaking point. 

Akkus sind jedes Mal eine Sollbruchstelle.

Batteries are predetermined to break every time.

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This article was produced independently with support from Lingoda.

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