An early 15th century example of a clause deployed in subject position but with an anaphoric it as object of the verb in the matrix clause:

Þat þe sones of pore men gouernen may riche remes, telle it for no tyþingges, for it is no nouelte.

which I would translate/modernize as:

That the sons of poor men may govern rich realms, don't report it as news, as it is no novelty.

[a1425 A Late Middle English Version of Petrarch's De Remediis, ed. F. N. M. Diekstra (1968)] cited in the MED; see that conj. 9(b).

Is there a name given to that type of clause structure? It's like the inverse of extraposition.

  • I'm not sure that's grammatical nowadays. It certainly doesn't sound natural. 'Don't suggest it as something strange that the sons of poor men may rise to prominent positions' defers the referent of 'it' as usual. Sep 10 at 14:09
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    It's called a left dislocation. There's nothing special in particular about the it there, I don't think. It's the same kind of construction as That dog, I don't like it or Your Dad, he's the best! Sep 10 at 14:20
  • @Araucaria Twinning it with a that-clause fronted rather than a regular NP is stretching normal limits. Sep 10 at 14:23
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    @Araucaria-Him Yes, I suppose the clause boils down to a NP on a semantic level, to the assertion or fact of the fronted/dislocated clause. Such that-clauses, standing in isolation, often serve as topics/bullet points for discussion in philosophical and legal texts.
    – TimR
    Sep 10 at 14:34
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    That's the general practice with anaphors. Clauses are NPs whenever we choose them to be, as long as they're dressed correctly. Like with complementizers or prepositions. Sep 10 at 16:16

1 Answer 1


I may be missing something here but

That the sons of poor men may govern rich realms, = content clause – the clause expands on the content of the anaphoric “it” in both clauses.

don't report it as news, Main clause in imperative.

as it is no novelty. = free modifier

As it is no novelty, don't report it as news, that the sons of poor men may govern rich realms.

  • 1
    I wanted to know what the current terminology was for such a clause structure. I will add the terminology tag.
    – TimR
    Sep 10 at 19:05
  • Why should there be a term for it? It is quite unremarkable.
    – Greybeard
    Sep 11 at 10:15
  • Its very unremarkability is what makes it nameworthy. It-cleft got a name, no?
    – TimR
    Sep 11 at 10:44

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