What is the linguistic term for the type of sentence whose predicate is a complete sentence with a subject and a verb?

As in the following examples:

Those who stole money from the company — we will fire them; those who revealed the crime — we will reward them.

I know these sentences can be inverted to read:

We will fire those who stole money from the company and we will reward those who revealed the crime.

But I want to know the linguistic term for the type of sentence I am asking about.

  • 2
    Left dislocation. An argument is moved to the beginning and an appropriate pronoun is left in its original place.
    – Greg Lee
    Aug 21, 2016 at 17:28
  • "we will fire them" is not a predicate. It is a clause. "Those who stole ..." is not the subject. It is a fragment, used later as an object ('them').
    – amI
    Aug 22, 2016 at 19:38

2 Answers 2


This sentence is a good example of what is commonly called “topicalisation”.

  • 3
    Actually, this is Left-Dislocation, not Topicalization. Note the pronoun objects left behind. Topicalization would produce Those who stole money from the company we will fire. With different intonation, of course; the constructions only look alike on paper. See pp 4-5 in this list of syntactic rules.
    – jlawler
    Aug 21, 2016 at 16:33
  • 2
    @jlawler. Maybe this is more a question of terminology. The classic example of topicalisation is the Arabic nominal sentence. You could translate this example pretty much word for word into Arabic. The “Those who…” clause would be analysed as the mubtadaʼ (topic) and the rest of the sentence would be the xabar (comment), with obligatory use of the object pronoun to mark the spot where the topic fits logically into the comment.
    – fdb
    Aug 21, 2016 at 16:59
  • @fdb, it is indeed a question of terminology -- correct and incorrect. In his dissertation, Ross pointed out that Topicalization is a "chopping" rule and is subject to the island constraints, while Left Dislocation is a copying rule, and is not.
    – Greg Lee
    Aug 21, 2016 at 17:35
  • @fdb An accurate observation by yourself: I am actually translating Arabic and trying to preserve the word order but would like to do more research on the resulting English word order and thus want to know what is is termed. Aug 22, 2016 at 14:49
  • @nicholasainsworth. I tried to respond your comment, but it is apparently too long. So I have made it into a new answer.
    – fdb
    Aug 22, 2016 at 15:44

I am sorry that this question got bogged down by a debate about the terminology of modern linguistics. In my view it is very unfortunate to refer to the Arabic jumla ʼismiyya as “left dislocation”, not least because “left” and “right” have a different meaning in languages that are written right to left. In this type of sentence nothing has been “dislocated”; what has happened is that a part of the sentence has been “placed at the beginning” (mubtadaʼ). “Dislocation” would imply that the VSO order is the default and that any other order is a departure from the default. The traditional Arabic analysis regards the verbal sentence and the nominal sentence as two fundamentally different types of sentence, both equally normal.

  • But the original question was about terminology. Why is it getting "bogged down" to discuss terminology? What could be more relevant than to say what terms are used?
    – Greg Lee
    Aug 22, 2016 at 16:55
  • " In this type of sentence nothing has been “dislocated”; what has happened is that a part of the sentence has been “placed at the beginning” ." No, that's not what has happened in the English sentences of the OP's at all. Not nearly. Look more closely. The nucleus of the sentence is a complete finite clause we will fire them. This has a complete subject a predicator and an object of its own. The noun phrase Those who stole money from the company has not been fronted from the Object position. It is not an object at all. ... Aug 25, 2016 at 15:32
  • ... Rather it is correferential with the NP them in the nucleus of the clause. The name of the grammatical function of an NP like this which occurs before a full clause but it correferential with it's object is a dislocated object. That's the terminology used. Aug 25, 2016 at 15:34

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