The physical impossibility of turning things into people is something language does with great ease. If you’re from Rome you are a Roman, if you do political science you are a political scientist, and if you’re into Star Trek, you are a Trekie. All you need is the right suffix and everything is possible. The problem is, what is the right suffix? Here is a selection of the most common candidates.

Perhaps the best place to start is with the character 人 (jin, human). It can be attached to the name of any country or region in the world to refer to a person from that place. Which is very convenient because, unlike in English where you have to choose from a whole catalog of -ese, -ers, -ans and -ians, in Japanese there’s only -jin. No matter if you’re from Finland (フィンランド人, Finrandojin), from Kansai (関西人, Kansaijin), or from Mars (火星人, Kaseijin), jin will always work.

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