第181課: The Suffix 化

Although “to become” is generally taken care of by the patterns になる in the intransitive sense and にする in the transitive sense, this is not the only way to go about expressing change with verbs. In the same way English has the suffixes “-ize,” “-ificate,” “-ify,” and “-ate,” Japanese has the suffix 化 that can attach to all sorts of nouns for the same effect.

化 is most commonly attached to Sino-Japanese words, but it is also frequently used with loan words from other languages. It may also seldom be used with native vocabulary.

  1. With Sino-Japanese words: 現代化 (modernization), 具体化 (materialization), 映画化 (making a book into a film), etc.
  2. With Western language loans: グローバル化, カプセル化, イオン化, アメリカ化
  3. With native words: 畑化

Neologisms are also extremely easy to make with this, and so even if you were to memorize every current example of this that has been coined thus far, you might be surprised to see a totally new word coined with it tomorrow.

As is with the case with any suffix, you will need to learn instances of them on a case by case basis. Even though the suffix 化 is used a lot, it’s not used with everything. For instance, you can’t say必要化. Yet, you can say 必要性 (necessity), which utilizes another ending. However, you can’t look at this and say that suffix 化 can’t attach itself to things from adjectives. Examples like 多様化 demonstrate that that’s not true.

In the example sentences below, you will find examples of the suffix 化 from very diverse backgrounds. All examples of this suffix can be used as stand alone nouns. They may also all be used as verbs. These resultant verbs may behave as intransitive, transitive or both intransitive and transitive verbs depending on the specific qualities of the word.

Whenever you see a transitivity note that says you must change する to される to use the verb in an intransitive sense, the verb itself is not intrinsically intransitive. Therefore, you are simply creating the passive form of the verb itself. This means that you won’t have the ambiguity as to whether the passive nuance is literally meant or not as is the case with verbs that can either be intransitive or transitive.

Whenever use a transitivity note that says you must change する to させる to use the verb use in a transitive verb, the verb itself is not intrinsically transitive. Therefore, you are simply creating the causative form of the verb itself. This means that you won’t have the ambiguity as to whether the causative nuance is literally meant or not as is the case with verbs that can either be intransitive or transitive.

Examples

1. ITの進化(しんか)(ともな)って日常生活(にちじょうせいかつ)のあらゆるものが機械化(きかいか){して・されて}きた。
Following the evolution of IT, all sorts of things of everyday life have become mechanized.

Transitivity Note: The use of 機械化される for the intransitive use of this verb is done when one wishes to implicit hint at the agent. Meaning, in this example, people would have been actively working in the background to bring about the mechanization of everyday things via IT innovation.

2. 作業(さぎょう)簡単(かんたん)でも頻度(ひんど)(たか)運用(うんよう)タスク(たすく)自動化(じどうか)した場合(ばあい)効率化(こうりつか)期待(きたい)できます。
In the situation that we automate the simple yet high-frequency operation tasks, we can expect optimization. 

3. 発注書(はっちゅうしょ)発行(はっこう)自動化(じどうか)したことで、省力化(しょうりょくか)(すす)んだ。
By automatizing the issuance of work orders, it made progress in labor savings.

Abbreviation Note: In business, “work order” is frequently written as WO, following English standards.

4. もし中国(ちゅうごく)民主化(みんしゅか)したらチベットやウイグル、(うち)モンゴルは独立(どくりつ)するんですか。
If China were to become democratic, would Tibet, Uygur, and Inner Mongolia become independent?

5. 日付(ひづけ)表示(ひょうじ)国際化(こくさいか)しました。
I’ve internationalized the display of the date.

6. 日本(にほん)西洋(せいよう)政治制度(せいじせいど)文化(ぶんか)輸入(ゆにゅう)して、((くに)を)近代化(きんだいか)しました。
By importing a Western political system and Western culture, Japan modernized (its country).

7. 自動運転(じどううんてん)は、完全(かんぜん)50(ごじゅう)年後(ねんご)実用化(じつようか)するでしょう。
Automated driving will likely become completely practical fifty years from now.

8. 欧州(おうしゅう)二院制(にいんせい)のメリットを合理化(ごうりか)している。
Europe rationalizes the merits of the bicameral system.

Transitivity Note: In order to use 合理化する in an intransitive sense, you must use the form 合理化される.

9. 被子植物(ひししょくぶつ)白亜紀以降(はくあきいこう)急速(きゅうそく)多様化(たようか)しました。
Flowering plants rapidly diversified from the Cretaceous period onward.

Transitivity Note: In order to use 多様化する in a transitive sense, you must use the form 多様化させる.

10. 時代(じだい)(とも)に、言葉(ことば)使(つか)(かた)意味(いみ)(など)が変化(へんか)します。
The usage and meanings of words change with time.

11. スーパーのウズラの(たまご)には有精卵(ゆうせいらん)()じっていて、ちゃんと(あたた)めれば孵化(ふか)する可能性(かのうせい)があります。
Fertilized eggs are mixed with the quail eggs at the supermarket, and when you properly warm them up, there’s the possibility (of one) hatching.

Spelling Note: ウズラ may seldom be spelled as 鶉.

12. ヒトとチンパンジーが種分化(たねぶんか)したのは500(ごひゃく)万年(まんねん)から700(ななひゃく)万年(まんねん)くらい(まえ)()われています。
It is said that humans and chimpanzees speciated from about 5 million to 7 million years ago.

13. 酸化(さんか)した(あぶら)危険(きけん)です。
Oxidated oil is dangerous.

Transitivity Note: If the agent of oxidation is actively oxidizing the object, then 参加させる should be used.

14. セルロースは短期間(たんきかん)液化(えきか)した。
The cellulose liquefied in a short period of time.

Transitivity Note: If the agent of liquification is actively liquefying the object, then 液化させる should be used.     

15. 排水(はいすい)浄化(じょうか)して再利用(さいりよう)しています。
We reuse drainage water by purifying it.

Transitivity Note: In order to use 浄化する in an intransitive sense, you must use the form 浄化される.

16. (すな)岩石(がんせき)風化(ふうか)してできた(もの)である。
Sand is what’s made from rocks eroding.

17. 他の民族(みんぞく)同化(どうか){する・させる}。
To assimilate other ethnic groups.

Transitivity Note: Using 同化させる implies far more forceful assimilation. 

Reading Note: 他 may be read as either た or ほか. 

18. 経営体制(けいえいたいせい)強化(きょうか)しました。
We’ve intensified our management structure.

Transitivity Note: In order to use 強化する in an intransitive sense, you must use the form 強化される.

19. 舗装(ほそう)劣化(れっか)している歩道(ほどう)(なお)してほしい。
I’d like the sidewalks with the pavement deteriorating fixed.

Transitivity Note: In order to use 劣化する in a transitive sense, you must use the form 劣化させる.

20. 人間(にんげん)(くさ)消化(しょうか)できないのは何故(なぜ)ですか。
Why is it that humans can’t digest grass?

Transitivity Note: In order to use 消化する in an intransitive sense, you must use the form 消化される.

21. ()んぼをそのまま畑化(はたけか)しても、重粘土質(じゅうねんどしつ)土壌(どじょう)なら作物(さくもつ)()窒息(ちっそく)して()れてしまいます。
Even if you just change the rice paddy field into a (regular) field, if the soil is heavy with clay, the roots of your crop will suffocate and die.

Spelling Note: 田んぼ may also seldom be spelled as 田圃.

22. 内部被曝(ないぶひばく)悪化(あっか)するでしょう。
Internal exposure will likely worsen.

Transitivity Note: In order to use 悪化する in a transitive sense, you must use the form 悪化させる.

23. インターネット時代(じだい)には、兵器(へいき)情報化(じょうほうか)しているのです。
In the Internet age, weapons are also being computerized.

24. 学術用語(がくじゅつようご)一般化(いっぱんか)して意味(いみ)(ひろ)がることが(おお)い。
There are many instances in which technical terms become generalized and expand in meaning.

25. 電力小売(でんりょくこうり)自由化(じゆうか)しても料金(りょうきん)()がらない。
Even if you were to liberalize power retailing, fares won’t go down.

Transitivity Note: In order to use 自由化する in an intransitive sense, you must use the form 自由化される.

26. 味覚(みかく)完全(かんぜん)日本化(にほんか)してるよね。
Your sense of taste has become completely japanified, huh.

Transitivity Note: In order to use 日本化する in a transitive sense, you must use the form 日本化させる.

27. Googleという単語(たんご)は、一般動詞化(いっぱんどうしか)している。
The word “Google” has turned into a standard verb.

28. (のう)活性化(かっせいか)して勉強(べんきょう)効率(こうりつ)をアップさせましょう。
Increase the efficiency of your studying by stimulating your brain!

29. 灌漑用(かんがいよう)(みず)使(つか)()ぎて砂漠化(さばくか)しているところもあります。
There are also places that are turning into desert from overusing water for irrigation.

Transitivity Note: In order to use 砂漠化する in a transitive sense, you must use the form 砂漠化させる.

30. 水道事業(すいどうじぎょう)民営化(みんえいか)したら水道代(すいどうだい)半分(はんぶん)になるって本当(ほんとう)ですか。
If the water supply were to privatize, would water bills really go down to half what they are?

31. ネット通販(つうはん)荷物(にもつ)増加(ぞうか)人手不足(ひとでぶそく)従業員(じゅうぎょういん)長時間労働(ちょうじかんろうどう)深刻化(しんこくか)している。
Long-hour labor is becoming more severe due to increases in packages from e-commerce and labor shortages.

Transitivity Note: In order to use 深刻化する in a transitive sense, you must use the form 深刻化させる.

32. 東芝(とうしば)臨時株主総会(りんじかぶぬしそうかい)で、半導体事業(はんどうたいじぎょう)分社化(ぶんしゃか)することについて、3(さん)(ぷん)2()以上(いじょう)株主(かぶぬし)賛成(さんせい)して承認(しょうにん)された。
At the Special General Meeting of Shareholders, over two thirds of the shareholders supported the splitting off of the semiconductor business, which then (the split-off) was approved.

33. 鹿児島県(かごしまけん)奄美大島(あまみおおしま)徳之島(とくのしま)にだけ生息(せいそく)する(くに)特別天然記念物(とくべつてんねんきねんぶつ)のアマミノクロウサギが野生化(やせいか)した(ねこ)(おそ)われるケースが相次(あいつ)いでいる。
Cases of the Amamino rabbit, a nationally protected species which only inhabits the islands of Amami Ōshima and Tokunoshima, being attacked by feral cats are happening one after another.

Transitivity Note: In order to use 野生化する in a transitive sense, you must use the form 野生化させる.

34. ライバルとの差別化(さべつか)事業(じぎょう)(さら)強化(きょうか)することが課題(かだい)となっている。
Further strengthening business via differentiation from rivals has become the task at hand.

35. 高齢化(こうれいか)人口(じんこう)減少(げんしょう)(すす)んでいたところにイノシシによる田畑(たはた)被害(ひがい)相次(あいつ)いだ。
Just as population ageing and population decreasing has progressed, damage to fields by wild boars have occurred one after another.

Spelling Note: イノシシ may also be spelled as 猪.

Transitivity Note: In order to use 高齢化する in a transitive sense, you must use the form k高齢化させる.

36. 今回(こんかい)事故(じこ)()けて、栃木県教育委員会(とちぎけんきょういくいいんかい)は、ビーコンの義務化(ぎむか)検討(けんとう)することにしている。
In response to this incident, the Tochigi Prefecture Board of Education is making it a point to consider the mandating of beacons.

37. 日本維新(にほんいしん)(かい)は、去年発表(きょねんはっぴょう)した憲法改正原案(けんぽうかいせいげんあん)に、教育無償化(きょういくむしょうか)(さか)()んだ。
The Japan Restoration Party incorporated making education free of charge in their original draft for constitutional reform, which they announced last year. 

38. 現金(げんきん)をデジタル()しないと現代(げんだい)決済手段(けっさいしゅだん)として()(のこ)れない。
If we don’t digitize cash, it won’t be able to last as a modern means of payment.

39. 包装(ほうそう)簡素化(かんそか)し、宣伝費(せんでんひ)削減(さくげん)するなどして大手(おおて)メーカーより(やす)商品(しょうひん)販売(はんばい)しようとしている。
(They) are trying to market merchandise cheaper than major manufacturers by simplifying packaging, reducing advertising expenses, and other means. 

40. 党執行部(とうしっこうぶ)では、原発(げんぱつ)稼働(かどう)をゼロにする目標(もくひょう)時期(じき)を「2030(にせんさんじゅうねん)(ねん)」に事実上(じじつじょう)前倒(まえだお)しして法案化(ほうあんか)することを検討(けんとう)していた。
(They) had been considering legislating the goal period of reducing nuclear operations to zero, in actuality, ahead of schedule to 2030 among the executives of the party.

41. サイバー攻撃(こうげき)もますます巧妙化(こうみょうか)している。
Cyber attacks are also gradually becoming more sophisticated.

Transitivity Note: In order to use 巧妙化する in a transitive sense, you must use the form 巧妙化させる.

42. 健康状態(けんこうじょうたい)などがデータ()できるようになった。
Health status and the like have become convertible into data.

43. 業務(ぎょうむ)分散化(ぶんさんか)(はか)っています。
We are considering decentralizing business-work.

Transitivity Note: In order to use 分散化する in an intransitive sense, you must use the form 分散化される.

44. 再配達(さいはいたつ)有料化(ゆうりょうか)解決策(かいけつさく)()げる意見(いけん)目立(めだ)った。
Opinions calling for putting forward the charging of redelivering into the solution strategy also stood out.

45. ここ数年(すうねん)価格競争(かかくきょうそう)激化(げきか)などで業績(ぎょうせき)()(なや)んでいる。
In these past several years, performance has been making little progress due to the intensification of price competition.

Transitivity Note: In order to use 激化する in a transitive sense, you must use the form 激化させる.

Reading Note: 激化 may also be read as げっか.