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What word describes/denotes the words that precede vision in the following two words: computer vision and machine vision?

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4 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

The word I hear most is noun adjective, while attributive noun and noun adjunct sound equally appropriate and current. I have never heard noun premodifier, though it sounds technically correct. I might also use adjectival noun myself despite Wikipedia's reservations. A noun adjective is always a modifier, but not the other way around: modifier is a correct but less specific term.

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  • Q1: How do you call it?

A noun preceding and describing other noun is called a noun adjunct or attributive noun or noun premodifier. Source 1 calls it premodifier.

  • Q2: Are they still nouns?

Yes, all the sources call them nouns.

  • Q3: Are they adjectives?

From source 3:

Nouns used in this way are sometimes said to be adjectives or to behave like adjectives. Attributive nouns may be marked in dictionaries with a label like often attrib placed after the part-of-speech label for noun. While any noun may be used attributively, the label is limited to those quite frequently used in this manner. An adjective is defined as a word standing for the name of an attribute which describes a noun more fully, e.g., "yellow flower."

Source 1 does not write that a noun can function as an adjective.

  • Q4: How can a noun function as an adjective (what is the meaning of function)? Is this a rigorous definition?

More research needed

Notes:
-you can also have postmodifiers

-the premodifiers of nouns are usually adjectives, but they can also be nouns, genitive noun phrases, participles, adverbs, numerals, and others.

Sources I found and consulted:

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Computer, in computer vision, is a modifier, which is a word (especially an adjective or noun used attributively), that restricts or adds to the sense of a head noun.

Example of modifiers are good and family in "good family house".

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I know it as an attributive noun, but according to this Wikipedia article, it's also called a noun adjunct or noun premodifier.

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