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For example:

  • A powerful sword forged by a famous blacksmith, it has seen endless battles.

  • A cheap yet versatile mini-tank, the Ice Golem provides a wide range of uses ...

  • The sister of the Witch, she has moderate hitpoints ...

  • The capital ship of the Terran fleet, this powerful spacecraft is capable of firing a Yamato cannon ...

That is, a sentence (perhaps following a title) that begins with a descriptive noun phrase, followed by a complete sentence. I remember reading sentences with a similar structure in item descriptions in many video games, but I can't remember a grammatical term to describe such sentences when I want to discuss them with others.

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  • Thank you. I googled 'left dislocation', and most of the examples are colloquial, and it is seen as a discourse function, such as topicalization. But my examples are not colloquial. I believe I have seen such usage in many genres of written texts, not only video games. So is it also discourse-driven in written language? Or is it a formal structure widely accepted in formal English for some time? By the way, English is not my mother tongue, so such nuances are elusive to me.
    – vttiie
    May 23 at 10:12
  • The examples are all appositives -- note that they are each followed by a synonymous NP that they are intended to describe or name. A very standard structure, as the existence of a punctuation mark (colon) for it, and its standard deployment in definitions. May 23 at 17:51
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    I disagree, Appositives are always post-head modifiers or supplements. How can "it" possibly be an appositive modifier of "A powerful sword forged by a famous blacksmith"? And how can "she" be an appositive modifier of "the sister of the witch"? In any case, appositives are always specifying, not ascriptive.
    – BillJ
    May 24 at 6:45

2 Answers 2

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I'd say that the initial NPs are predicative adjuncts. Here are some clearer examples:

A proud teetotaller, John stuck to water while the others drank champagne.

A teacher by profession, Ed was soon recruited to lead the students.

The initial NPs, a proud teetotaller" and "a teacher by profession" are predicative because they relate to a predicand, i.e. "John" and "Ed" (cf. John was a teetotaller. / Ed was a teacher.). They are also adjuncts in clause stucture; hence the term 'predicative adjunct'.

Note that predicative adjuncts are not restricted to NPs; we can also have PPs and AdjPs;

In a bad temper, as usual, John walked on ahead of the main party.

Unwilling to accept these terms, Max resigned.

Lexico link describes a predicative adjunct as "a word or phrase that amplifies or completes the predicate of the sentence", though I would add that it must be a supplement (e.g. an appendage), and it must relate to a predicand (usually the subject of the sentence).

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These are often considered appositives. Although appositives usually follow their referents, it is possible for them to precede them, especially at the beginning of a sentence. Purdue OWL gives several examples, including:

A bold innovator, Wassily Kandinsky is known for his colorful abstract paintings.

ThoughtCo gives another example:

A dark wedge, the eagle hurtled earthward at nearly 200 miles per hour.

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    I disagree, Appositives are always post-head modifiers or supplements. No exception.
    – BillJ
    May 24 at 6:20
  • @BillJ Yeah, we've had this conversation before. Noted. May 24 at 13:33

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