Hi Mrs. F.,
despite the overwhelming usage of English terms in modern language, there are still a couple of words imported from German which became common in English texts. “Eigenvalues” and “Eigenvectors” are important solutions of multidimensional algebraic equations, “Anlage” is used in developmental biology to describe a primordial structure that has the potential to form an organ or an anatomic structure later on. A term I personally would like very much to promote for use in English texts is “Fremdkoerper“, literary translated “Foreign Body”. Whereas the english “Foreign Body” sounds very ambigous, only receiving meaning within a particular context, the German “Fremdkoerper” always refers not only to the item itself (i.e. the piece that is located where it does not belong to), but it immediately implies the counter-reaction that it induces. A “Fremdkoerper” somewhere in your body causes pain, inflammation or an immune reaction. A “Fremdkoerper” in the society causes widespread aversion, mobbing by the collective crowd, police investigations and legal trials, finally branding the “Fremdkoerper” as a heretic thread to the society and a person which has to be isolated and kept under permanent surveilance.
Recently our son came home from school lessons in social and economic politics, telling me that the evil capitalists introduce “predetermined breaking points” in their consumer products, thereby making sure that the stuff they sell has a limitted life span and needs replacement after not too long time. He quoted a light-bulb that since 112 years works without any defect in a California firehouse. He told me that everything we buy nowadays (and in particular the Christmas gifts he will receive the day after tomorrow) come with such inbuild “predetermined breaking points”, making sure they wont last till Christmas next year. I told him that George Michael and the Wham had the same idea already 30 years ago, and made one of the greatest Christmas pop-songs of the idea that a heart you give to somebody as a gift has a “predetermined breaking points”, making the love to last only for a short time. Whether or not one believes in such “predetermined breaking points” in all modern products, I think that one more time German languages provides a more crispy and pointed solution: SOLLBRUCHSTELLE. In contrast to the English word, it not only defines the “Breaking Point” (-bruchstelle) as something that was included with a special purpose, but it also explaines that its purpose is the prevention of a desaster by breaking in advance. You can find Sollbruchstellen at the handle of a beer stein, to break if people beat each others heads with them and prevent a too fiercely head trauma. And everbody is perhaps familiar with the rectangular groove pattern on chocolate bars, predetermined breaking lines to make sure you can break the chocolate in small pieces before your fingernails break. Sollbruchstellen, “predetermined breaking points” are therefore no recent invention by the industry, but something as old and maybe even older than mankind. Obviously, as soon as God (or however you call it) came up with the idea of living organisms, he invented the build-in SOLLBRUCHSTELLE. Each living organisms has a timer that unevitably runs down, and as long as we have not found the construction detail to inactivate the SOLLBRUCHSTELLE, will terminate. Ashes to ashes, Funk to Funky. Our research in stem-cell aging and replacement clearly tries to find out how to fix the SOLLBRUCHSTELLE of life. From a biochemical or biophysical point of view, there is no need for a termination of life.