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In Chinese, putting 化 after a word often seems to have the same effect as the suffix -ize in English.

I have: 公司在全国建立了进150家分公司,兴建了百万平方米的现代化厂房,形成了年产数百万吨的强大产能。

If I translate '兴建了百万平方米的现代化厂房', 'modernize' or 'modernization' do not make much sense. I would like to simply use 'modern'. Dictionaries tell me '现代化‘ means 'modernize' or 'modernization'. Am I missing something here?

兴建了百万平方米的现代化厂房 'built 1 million square metres of modern factory space,'

  • My English is not good, but does modernized factory make sense? In English, are modern and modernized different? – songyuanyao Mar 27 '15 at 8:20
  • ‘The factory was modernized', it is therefore 'a modernized factory' is good English. Does my sentence above mean they changed old factories to make them more modern, or they built new and modern factories?? I thought it meant they built new, modern factories, but maybe that is not the meaning of the Chinese sentence. – Pedroski Mar 27 '15 at 9:04
  • 'modern' is an adjective. 'modernize' is something you do. 'modernized' is the Past Participle of 'modernize'. Past Participles are used as adjectives. – Pedroski Mar 27 '15 at 9:12
  • As you said, here it should mean built new and modern fatories. And I thought for a while about 现代厂房 vs 现代化厂房, IMO, for the former, it just means modern fatories, but the latter has a additional meaning of they adopted a lot of modern technologies and processes on the factories to make them modern. Maybe it's too subtle... – songyuanyao Mar 27 '15 at 9:28
  • Thanks. 'they adopted a lot of modern technologies and processes onX in the factories to bring them up to the latest standards' X'make them modern' is the meaning of 'modern'. 'modern' basically means 'now existing'. – Pedroski Mar 27 '15 at 9:38
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Literally translated, 现代化 is "modernised". Actually I think the construction of Adj+化 in Chinese is actually mimicking the construction created by -ize in English.

Considering only the language aspect, I think 现代化 means the same as 现代(adj.) does. If there is any difference, 现代化 might implies a process of transforming something to be modern, hence "modernized". But in many of its modern usage it is does not. For example, I don't think the sentence in this question implies that those factories or plants were not "modern" but become "modern" by renovation or upgraded equipment. I feel they were built to modern and simply are modern.

This lead to my other point. I think 现代化 is overused in modern Chinese. You see 现代化 was a widely used propaganda term in the context of stimulating industrial and economy growth in the history of PRC. The proper term are "four modernisations", which basically equalised to "better" in the eyes of public. Nowadays, everything is already quite "modern", so there seldom be a "modernisation" process happened to an object described as 现代化的. Most of the time, they are just modern. However, we still see the world quite often, mostly in official speeches or promotional materials.

I'm not sure what is the best way in English that can capture this subtleness, and it's now become more or less a style thing. So in most of the cases, 现代化 = 现代 unless you want to give it an official or tone that relate people to that ideology.

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  • Thanks, maybe this author likes 化,further down he has ',已基本实现了生产自动化,‘ although here 'production automatization' would fit. – Pedroski Mar 27 '15 at 22:29
  • @Pedroski Exactly. That's why I consider it more a choice of writing style nowadays. And I don't think it's traditional Chinese construction. It feels more influenced by western language (maybe it's via Japan). But sure it has become quite popular today in such settings due to the history. – user1228520 Mar 28 '15 at 1:11
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'现代化厂房' actually means '现代化的厂房'. The '的' is usually omitted when the adjective is followed by a noun.

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  • Thanks, but how would you translate '现代化的' here?? – Pedroski Mar 27 '15 at 9:06
  • 'modern' is enough, I think. – spacewander Mar 29 '15 at 12:15
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Use modern. No need to use modernized, as that would imply that it was old-fashioned before and went through a makeover, which the Chinese context does not imply.

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it helps me sometimes to think of "X化(的)Y" as "an X form of Y". A "modern form/kind of factory", or 西方化的思维- "a western form of thinking." This can be an alternate to lazily translating everything as "...ized" which can easily be either hard to understand or completely incomprehensible.

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