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The researchers placed a specially trained budgerigar in a wind tunnel and measured how much muscle power it needed to maintain flight at various airspeeds up to 50 kilometres per hour.

What is the function of the highlighted phrase? Is it a noun clause?

  • Stripped to its syntactic essentials, The researchers ... measured something. Whatever they measured, and no matter how many words are used to describe it, the "object" of the verb (the thing measured) would have to be some kind of noun. – FumbleFingers Sep 5 '17 at 14:05
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The researchers placed a specially trained budgerigar in a wind tunnel and measured how much muscle power it needed to maintain flight at various airspeeds up to 50 kilometres per hour.

How much muscle power &c is a clause of the sort we tag (another term is 'fused relative clause'). If you browse the questions under this tag you will see that these are indeed 'noun-like' in the sense they typically act as complements of a verb and thus play many (but by no means all) of the same roles which an ordinary noun phrase plays.

Many old-fashioned grammars call clauses which behave this way 'noun clauses', but the term is not well regarded by most contemporary linguists, because it invites comparison with 'noun phrase' and suggests, quite falsely, that the clause is headed by a noun.

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