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(1) “You can keep it,” said Harry, laughing at how pleased Ron was.
(2) “I always said he was off his rocker,” said Ron, looking quite impressed at how crazy his hero was. (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, p.200, p.302)

(3) His questions showed me how complex and mysterious were certain institutions of the Church which I had always regarded as the simplest acts.
(James Joyce, Dubliners)

In (3), it seems that subject-verb inversion has occurred after interrogative phrase, probably because of the heaviness of the subject. Can I similarly invert the sentence in (1) and (2)?

If so, are they just options, or is there some semantic difference, for example emphasizing the clause?

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    You've asked several questions about older texts, and trying to derive modern grammatical usage from them. "Dubliners" is a text from 1914. Have you have any more modern texts that show this type of sentence inversion? If so, please include that detail in your question. Deriving modern grammatical usage from pre-war fiction is likely to teach you a variant of English that is not in common parlance. And studying forms of English that are in not common use would be better suited to ELU. – Matt Aug 27 '13 at 3:05
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    @Matt Wall Street Journal, Mar 20, 2013:"Indeed, the title of Michael Wolgemut’s and Wilhelm Pleydenwurff’s 1493 “Map of the Known World With Strange Peoples of Africa and Asia,” and the map of Africa in Sebastian Münster’s 1540 “Cosmographica Universalis” showing a one-eyed race of “Monoculi” near the present-day Republic of Cameroon, reveals just how mysterious were the regions that beckoned to European navigators." Joyce presents difficulties, but emphatically not because his language is archaic. – StoneyB Aug 27 '13 at 3:51
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    @StoneyB: My objection is not to do with Joyce per se, but the fact that the OP here is trying to understand modern grammatical constructs via pre-war fiction texts in this and multiple other questions. Whilst I will be the first to say that Shakespeare, Dickens, Joyce and others are no doubt part of a fine education in English Literature, IMO they are not serving as good indicators of English in modern use, and may in fact be a disservice to the OP by teaching a style of language that may not be in common use. This is why I was asking if the OP had more recent examples. – Matt Aug 27 '13 at 4:20
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    @Matt But that's exactly OP's question! Here, she says, is the ordinary contemporary use (JKR); over here is a high-literary use (JJ); is JJ's use syntactically motivated, semantically motivated, pragmatically motivated, or is it something else entirely? ... As for the language that's "in common use", it was Joyce as much as anybody who taught us to listen to it instead of sneering at it. – StoneyB Aug 27 '13 at 4:54
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These are not interrogatives but free relatives; otherwise your analysis is spot-on.

Yes, it is the weight of the subject NP (14 words!) which licenses the inversion. And No: that doesn't license inversion with lighter subjects.

But don't suppose that Joyce performs this inversion because his subject is heavy. Joyce was perfectly capable of expressing this gracefully and colloquially if he had wanted to, and in fact this sentence stands out as awkward in its context. It does so because Joyce wants it to: it's a mimetic device which represents in its very syntax the confusion the boy feels, the "foolish and halting" answers he gives to the priest's questions.

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