In the novels of Ian M. Banks, who invented the term, a "neural lace" is a fine mesh that grows with the brain and serves as a brain-computer interface. Scientists, apparently, have already invented it and call it "mesh electronics".

In the German translations of the novels of Ian M. Banks, the neural lace is translated as "neurale Borte", which makes absolutely no sense at all. While a "lace" can refer to a net, a thread, or, more specifically, to the strings used to tie shoes or clothing, the German "Borte" carries none of these meanings of a device that "ties together", that is, connects things.

So what would a neural lace be called in German, if it was something you could ask your doctor to implant into your brain?

Already taken:

Existing translations:

  • The chosing of terminology was probably already a compromise in the English original - Everything that's close enough to a network or mesh was already taken. OTOH, lace very well translates to Borte, taking a connotation of decoration and overall "improvement", which I think fits very well. Probably the main reason for this choice: neuraler Senkel sounds quite odd...
    – tofro
    Oct 5, 2016 at 9:49
  • @tofro But "lace" ("Spitze") doesn't even mean "Borte".
    – user4973
    Oct 5, 2016 at 9:54
  • according to some dictionaries, no, according to some others, yes. According to my understanding: Yes, somewhat.
    – tofro
    Oct 5, 2016 at 10:12

2 Answers 2


It is somewhat difficult to come up with a term which covers the connecting quality as well as the area-covering geometry. My best idea for that is


If reflecting the connection would be sufficient, something like


(admittedly not very German and likely to be called neuro/neural port in English) can be considered.

  • 1
    Ooooh, "Anschlussgeflecht" is excellent!
    – Mac
    Oct 5, 2016 at 10:19

Im not familiar with the source or its author, but at a guess, I'd say that "lace" (German "Spitze") probably refers to the lace-like structure of the mesh, like old-fashioned net curtains or similar, rather than shoelaces.

That said, the translator did indeed choose an awkward way to render that in German. While a "Borte" (i.e. a fringe, ornamental border) can be made of lace, and he/she probably tried to incorporate the idea that the neural lace is at the border between brain and computer, it seems a bit of a stretch.

The perfect translation would probably be "neur(on)ales Netz", but that is already taken.

I'm assuming this thing is kind of flat, and somehow attaches to the surface of the brain, growing into it like an artificial skin graft or something? How about "neurales Vlies"? This would convey the general shape (flattish rather than bulky or like a single string) and maybe also the structure (interwoven fibers/filaments).

  • There's no reason not to use an already taken term for a more fitting meaning. On the contrary, it emphasizes how futuristic and strange the described world is. Oct 5, 2016 at 10:51
  • @KilianFoth: If the original author makes the decision to redefine an already used term to emphasize how futuristic and strange the described world is, fair enough. But a translator shouldn't normally introduce such aspects in the translation - I'd consider that the same sort of mistranslation as translators introducing jokes where there was no joke in the original version, or entirely change parts of a plot. Oct 8, 2016 at 17:19

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