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Relative clauses usually involve the movement of an operator, either overt (wh-operator) or covert (silent operator)

The person who1 t1 killed Mary has been caught.
The dog Op1 that the cat clawed t1 is injured.

but the clauses below do not have any traces, which should mean that there is no movement of any operator:

The fact that he is a murderer disgusts me.
The rumour that he was a murderer was spread all over the media.
The finding that objects fall because of gravity shook the world.

Are the clausal complements of the nouns above relative clauses or appositives like in the sentences below?

John, the man who was caught, was sentenced to life imprisonment.
My sister, the judge who sentenced him, is responsible for it.
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    Neither: the subordinate clauses in your middle three examples are declarative content clauses. The subordinator "that", if present, is always clause initial. – BillJ Mar 31 '17 at 9:43
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    Yes, they are licensed by the head nouns. They can't be relative clauses because there are no R elements anaphorically related to the head nouns— the subordinate clauses simply give the content of "fact", "rumour" and "finding". And they can't be appositives because content clauses do not systematically yield appositives. I believe it is now accepted that appositives can only be NPs. – BillJ Mar 31 '17 at 10:05
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    RCs are characterised by 'movement' (i.e. non-canonical word order) in English, but this is not universally true. For example, Chinese RCs do not have relative pronouns but have a relativiser (de in Mandarin), while other languages have internally-headed relative clauses, etc. – WavesWashSands Mar 31 '17 at 15:35
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    This is a forum, and I'm talking about English. My definition is a standard widely-accepted one. The property of simply modifying nouns is way too broad as a definition since all non-finite clauses can also modify nouns. The property of containing an R element -- actually present or understood -- that is anaphorically related to an antecedent is crucial to the definition since it distinguishes relatives from the other two kinds of subordinate finite clause, i.e. content and comparative. – BillJ Apr 1 '17 at 15:54
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    Movement in RCs does not occur when the anaphoric element in the RC is its subject. That can occur, or a wh-word (well, some wh-words), but something that can be taken for an NP has to occur as subject of the finite verb in an RC. Hence the man who(m)/that/⃠ I saw, and the man who/that came to dinner are all well-formed NPs, but not *the man ⃠ came to dinner. – jlawler Apr 1 '17 at 16:14

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