What is ‘Sollbruchstelle’ in English?

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The translation you get from googling ‘Sollbruchstelle’ is predetermined breaking point. However, when I googled that phrase to find out more, not much came up. In English, as I eventually found out, the phenomenon of manufacturers intentionally limiting a products lifespan is called ‘planned obsolescence’. A ‘pre-determined breaking point’ in any case is just one means to an end of achieving what the wider term of planned obsolescence describes. So from a linguistic point, one is the sub-category of the other, i.e. the two terms stand in a hierarchical semantic relationship to each other.

The Pons dictionary definition of ‘obsolescence’ is: the state of becoming old-fashioned and no longer useful (=becoming obsolete). ‘Planned obsolescence’ as a term encompasses more than just the printer that stops working after so and so many pages, but also marketing strategies of short lived fashion design (e.g. clothes and cars).

The topic has come up several times in some of my classes. Last week, one of my participants brought in an article from the German Greenpeace Magazine issue 2/12 that features the 62 year old technician Achim Wehbeck from Berlin-Spandau, who made it his mission to save or prolong the life of devices deemed obsolete. The article also lists web pages to get the old printer working again, and literature like Giles Slade’s Made to Break: Technology and Obsolescence in America, Harvard University Press 2007.

When I looked for a translation of ‘planned obsolescence’ into German, I found ‘geplante Produktalterung‘, ‘geplanter Verschlei├č‘ and ‘geplante Obsoleszenz‘.

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