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When building a subordinate clauses we can put them at the end of a sentence, or at the beginning:

Er lernt fleißig Deutsch, damit er sein Examen besteht.
Damit er sein Examen besteht, lernt er fleißig Deutsch.

Sprachen sind leicht zu lernen, sagte seine Mutter immer.
Seine Mutter sagte immer, Sprachen sind leicht zu lernen.

Wohin er auch blickte, überall standen Bücher.
Überall standen Bücher, wohin er auch blickte.

Is there a (subtle) change of meaning when changing the order of clauses, or is this only a matter of style?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

The part which comes first is the fact you want to emphasize. Note: Your 3rd line reads like a direct quote, so one might rather write:

Seine Mutter sagte immer: "Sprachen sind leicht zu lernen".

As an alternative you could use an indirect quote:

Seine Mutter sagte immer, Sprachen seien leicht zu lernen.

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