1

As far as I know, one of め/目's usages is to function as a suffix to express a certain similarity, to say something is __ish. However, how is it different from っぽい?

According to this question, one can attach め to the 連用形 of a verb, 連体形 of i-adjectives, and 辞書形 (?) of na-adjectives according to this question. Nonetheless, I just read this in a news article: 木目調の建物, which I believe is 目 attached to 木, a noun.

In addition, according to Maggie Sensei, and here I quote:

It won’t work with all adjectives. You usually use this with adjectives that express the degree, size, amount, etc. Though you are not supposed to use this form with na-adjective, you will see it used this way in conversation sometimes.

If all of the above is true, め/目 seems not to differ at all from っぽい in terms of formation. According to Japanesetest4you, here's how っぽい is formed:

Verb-stem + っぽい
Noun + っぽい
いadj (-い) + っぽい
なadj + っぽい

Apparently, there does not appear to be any difference between め/目 and っぽい in terms of formation. Notwithstanding grammar, I assume each has its own specific words to go with, context/set phrases to be used in, etc.

Question:

  1. Is there a rule that governs when to prefer one over the other, or is this something only exposure and experience can resolve?

  2. め/目 seems rarely used with na-adjectives and nounsーif at all. Could anyone provide some common examples you have come across?

3

I can't answer your first question because the precondition is not correct. Let me explain what it is.

The suffix 目 doesn't mean っぽい but that, as the answer in the link says, something has that tendency. In other words, やすめ means "relatively low-cost", while 安っぽい is "cheap".

Second, 目 as in 木目 is not the suffix but a noun that means "pattern" and 木目 is a compound.

An example of a na adjective I often hear is きれいめ, (edit) which means "not too casual (for outfits)".

1

I'm not sure if this is a good answer for your question but I think that while both have a "-ish" sense they are differen't "ishes"

Compare:

安め means on the cheap side in terms of prices (e.g. 安めの価格).

But

安っぽい means it seems cheap

So the general use of 目・め is something like "one the X side" where X is whatever came before it.

But ぽい means something seems/appears like it is that thing -- even it is that thing (see ALC).

  • 1
    I find it interesting how 高めの値段 yields hundreds of thousands of results, whereas 高っぽい値段 yields almost none. The ALC article is a bit hard for me, but still a helpful read. I appreciate it. – Yeti Ape Apr 27 '18 at 12:22

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