light as adjective (not)

Subject: light as adjective (not)
From: Randy Allen Harris <raha -at- WATARTS -dot- UWATERLOO -dot- CA>
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 1994 08:16:35 -0500

From Paul D. Marvel:

>> In the term "light wave," light is an adjective because it qualifies what
>> kind of wave you're talking about. There ae gravity waves (maybe),
>> electro-magnetic waves, etc. Physicists use "light" to specify
>> electro-magnetic radiation between certain wavelengths.
>> Paul D. Marvel

Which got this reply from Robert Bononno:

>I'm not sure it's actually a modifier. You can't find this usage of
>"light" in Webster's, for example. A "light wave" is a wave of light. I
>do understand the basic physics involved and know that light is only a
>small part of the em spectrum (located between UV and IR). I'm not sure,
>however, that physicists only use the word "light" to refer to visible
>light. (We use "dark light" to refer to parts of the UV spectrum.)

"Light" in "light wave" is clearly a modifier, though it's not an
adjective. Lots of nouns modify other nouns ("library hours", "school
night", "user interface", etc.)

-------======= * =======-------
Randy Allen Harris
raha -at- watarts -dot- uwaterloo -dot- ca

Rhetoric and Professional Writing, Department of English, University of
Waterloo, Waterloo ON N2L 3G1, CANADA; 519 885-1211, x5362; FAX: 519 884-8995

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