The Germans speak good to very good English. This, however, can lead to them importing English terms literally into German: “to break down” becomes herunterbrechen, as in to break down a complex topic into its component parts.

But just because a term can be literally translated into another language does not mean that the thinking behind that term fits into the other culture’s way of thinking.

In fact, Germans do not consider it helpful to take complexity and break it down (herunterbrechen) into its component parts. They aim to do the opposite, to see particulars in their interrelationships, in their mutual influences. They look for patterns, strive to understand complexity as a whole, as a system. Germans do not break down, instead they tie together.

In this sense, herunterbrechen is a form of corruption, of turning, twisting, convoluting a complex reality. Instead of simplifying complexity, the Germans enter into it, in order to understand it, to work with it as it is.