"Personification" might be the term for adding 「人」or「者」as a suffix to a noun.

I am pretty sure that 「化」can also function as a suffix to a noun. My perception is that adding 「化」as a suffix "injects action", and enables the newly formed noun to feel like gerunds and infinitives (which insert action into sentences via nouns), as well as function as a サ変名詞:
「兵器」= "weapon"; 「兵器化する」= "to weaponize";
「可視」= "visibility"; 「可視化する」= "to visualize";
「コモディティー」= "commodity"; 「コモディティー化する」= "to commoditize";
I am sure that there are many examples. They would be used in newspapers to make articles as short as possible?

(1) But, does the construct of "injecting action" with a「化」suffix really exist?
(2) What are some websites that explain this?
(3) Is there a short phrase in English, or Japanese, that is used to identify this construct?

  • 2
    I understand "personification" to mean something like anthropomorphism, and not to be anything related to adding suffices. (But I'm no linguist...)
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 11:55
  • 1
    personification/anthropomorphism is 擬人化, for the record
    – ssb
    Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 13:29
  • Here's a website that explains this. Well... a dictionary entry, really dic.yahoo.co.jp/…
    – dainichi
    Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 14:52

1 Answer 1


The verbal morpheme 化【か】 in Japanese acts as a derivational suffix. Since it's a verbal morpheme (as in Chinese), it forms verbal nouns from regular nouns. These verbal nouns can be used in periphrastic constructions with する (see Japanese "Verbal Noun and suru" Constructions by Bill Poser).

It corresponds fairly closely to -ization or -ification. It adds the meaning -ize, -(i)fy (intransitively: "to become", transitively: "to cause to become"), but the resulting compound is still a syntactically a noun. Placing it in a periphrastic construction with する allows it to be used as a verb:

 武器        weapon
 武器化       weaponization
 武器化する     weaponize

In particular, this suffix can be attached to adjectival nouns (called 形容動詞の語幹 in traditional grammar):

 グローバル     global
 グローバル化    globalization
 グローバル化する  globalize

But as jovanni points out, the resulting words don't work quite the same way; the result of グローバル化する is not a グローバル, but a thing which is global.

Much like English -ize and -(i)fy affixation, Japanese 化 affixation is a productive process, so you can add it to nouns whenever you feel it makes sense to do so:

 階層        stratum
 階層化       stratification
 階層化する     stratify
 アイコン      icon
 アイコン化     iconization
 アイコン化する   iconize

Of course, the stranger it is semantically, the sillier the result is:

 ハンバーガー    hamburger
 ハンバーガー化   hamburgerization
 ハンバーガー化する hamburgerize

But I think that as long as a noun can be interpreted as something other than a verbal noun, 化 can attach to it. It seems to be very productive!

  • 1
    Just to add, -化 can also add the intransitive meaning “to become” as in ビジネスがグローバル化する, just like many other nouns which can be turned into a verb by adding する. Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 0:01
  • 1
    Is グローバル a noun in this case? I think グローバル is an adjective here. The resulting thing by グローバル化 is not a グローバル , but somrthing which has the property グローバル.
    – jovanni
    Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 2:37

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