Examples: "The father, he was very angry." instead of "The father was very angry" "The cup, it was overflowing." instead of "The cup was overflowing"

I have seen it in dramatic texts, especially where a special emphasis is needed for dramatic effect. But recently I have heard this guy on youtube do this with almost every sentence with a subject and it's jarring and weird.

I wonder what this grammar style is called.

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    That sort of thing is becoming less common, because (sorry not sorry) the times, they are a-changin'. – nnnnnn Jul 23 '19 at 7:48
  • @nnnnnn You say that, and yet some people seem to relish in using it (and overusing it), it seems. – batjko Jul 23 '19 at 13:33
  • @EdwinAshworth Hm, possibly. It's not really the same question, but about the same topic. – batjko Jul 23 '19 at 17:05
  • 'Left dislocation' seems a pretty convincing answer for 'X, he was y'. Certainly a duplicate (the banked response hedges). We'll be having " ' Z, she was z' isn't really a duplicate" if we're not careful. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 24 '19 at 11:51

The choices people make in how they present the information they want to convey is called information packaging or information structure.

The sentence The father, he was very angry packages the information to place greater emphasis on the subject of the sentence than the standard The father was very angry.

This type of construction is called left dislocation by the The Cambridge Grammar Of The English Language (p1408). The CGEL explains dislocation:

A dislocated clause has a constituent, usually an NP, located to the left or the right of the nucleus of the clause, with an anaphorically linked pronoun or comparable form within the nucleus itself.

It gives the example:

Her parents, they seem pretty uncaring.

According to the CGEL, "dislocation of this kind is often found in oral personal narratives and informal writing".

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  • Thank you, that's a very clear and concise answer. – batjko Jul 23 '19 at 7:21
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    @batjko. Thanks. And the right dislocated version of your sentence is: He was very angry, the father. – Shoe Jul 23 '19 at 9:06

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