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I have heard a term called delayed appositive, which is an appositive that is delayed as shown below.

The hunter was trying to fight the bear, a real brute of a man.

Here, this a real brute of a man refers to the hunter, not the bear. But the problem is this: there are not much information about delayed appositive, and the terms seems not very credible, as I am unable to find sources that describe this appositive in detail other than towson university website. http://www.towson.edu/ows/nouns.htm.

Moreover, I know of a similar phenomenon done by left and right dislocation, which I am not so familiar with and is creating confusions for me. So, is this phenomenon called delayed appositive, or is it called something else? Also, if it's different from the dislocation, why is it different?

  • Dislocation is not very difficult to understand if you read this. I think you are calling "right dislocation" "delayed appositive". – user140086 Nov 11 '15 at 10:06
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Well, yes, I suppose you could call it a "delayed" appositive, but why would you want to put the supplementary (non-integrated) appositive NP "a real brute of a man" so far away from its anchor "the hunter" when it appears (wrongly of course) that there is another possible candidate for the job, i.e. "the bear" in the vicinity? Just for a moment, the reader is likely to associate the NP "real brute of a man" with the adjacent NP "the bear", though a second look immediately dispels that possibility of course. For that reason, it's probably best avoided.

Most supplementary (non-integrated) appositives are adjacent to their NP anchor, but sometimes they can be separated:

I met a friend of yours at the party last night - Emma Carlisle.

But look what happens when you insert another possible (but incorrect) anchor:

"I met a friend of yours at the party last night with Kim Anderson - Emma Carlise". You have to do a quick double-take to establish whether the anchor is "Kim Anderson" (wrong) or "a friend of yours" (correct). Again, it's best avoided.

Incidentally, you can't normally separate an integrated appositive from the noun it modifies:

"She sang in the opera 'Carmen' at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden" is fine, but not "She sang in the opera at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, 'Carmen'".

Dislocation is a different kind of construction which has a constituent (usually an NP) located to the left or right of the main part of the clause which is anaphorically linked to a personal pronoun within the main part of the clause itself:

(1) "Her parents seem pretty uncaring". (basic non-dislocated)

(2) "Her parents, they seem pretty uncaring". (left dislocation)

(3) "They seem pretty uncaring, her parents". (right dislocation)

In (2) and (3) the subject of the non-dislocated version (1), "her parents", stands outside the main part of the clause, to the left and right respectively, and the linked pronoun "they" occupies the place filled by "her parents" in the non-dislocated version.

Superficially, dislocated constructions and appositives look quite similar, but the crucial difference is that with appositives there is no personal pronoun in the main part of the clause that is linked to an external NP. Now look back at your example:

"The hunter was trying to fight the bear, a real brute of a man".

There's no anaphorically linked pronoun here, the NP "a real brute of a man" is simply an appositive of "the hunter". To change it into to a dislocated construction, you'd have to re-cast it:

"The hunter, a real brute of a man, he was trying to fight the bear".

I hope that all makes sense!

  • Thank you for the answer! But I have some doubts. No where does it say that dislocation is limited only to the personal pronouns. Can you provide some credible source that states this? Also, I do not think that delayed appositive is considered wrong --- according to your judgement, even the verbless clauses that occur outside the sentence, for example, (12) Quite upset at the news, Victoria started strolling along the corridor (novitasroyal.org/Vol_7_1/petrlikova.pdf), should be considered ungrammatical, but they are certainly not. – sooeithdk Nov 11 '15 at 17:43
  • Because the noun the appositive is modifying is quite clear and very easy to locate, the structure itself is not ungrammatical (at least to me). This delayed appositive structure is used by many and quite common. I also think they are very flexible when it comes to location, just like verbless clauses. – sooeithdk Nov 11 '15 at 17:44
  • The reason they put the appositive at the end of the sentence varies. One might want to emphasize the appositive or create kind of a climax-like feeling in the sentence. – sooeithdk Nov 11 '15 at 17:51
  • You were given a link earlier to Wikipedia by member Rathony. Here’s another one: languagetools.info/grammarpedia/dislocation.htm. It’s a beginners' grammar website which should suit your needs. You should also do your own research by investing in a good modern grammar. – BillJ Nov 11 '15 at 19:22
  • You: Also, I do not think that delayed appositive is considered wrong --- according to your judgement. Me: I didn’t say that what you call delayed appositives are wrong. If you read my reply, I said that I didn’t like an appositive NP being placed too far away from its anchor, especially if there’s another intervening NP, as it can give rise to momentary ambiguity by the reader Most appositives are adjacent to their anchor or to the NP they modify. I did in fact gave an example of a perfectly acceptable ‘delayed appositive’. – BillJ Nov 11 '15 at 19:25

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