You Just Say “Who” 

That’s not a bingo.

Here’s a horrible new formulation of language:

Back in the spring of 2022, professor of linguistics David Pesetsky was talking to an undergraduate class about relative clauses, which add information to sentences. For instance: “The senator, with whom we were speaking, is a policy expert.” Relative clauses often feature “who,” “which,” “that,” and so on.

Before long a student, Kanoe Evile ’23, raised her hand.

“How does this account for the ‘whom of which’ construction?” Evile asked.

Pesetsky, who has been teaching linguistics at MIT since 1988, had never encountered the phrase “whom of which” before.

Hey, neither have I! And it sounds both clunky and wrong.

“I thought, ‘What?’” Pesetsky recalls.

But to Evile, “whom of which” seems normal, as in, “Our striker, whom of which is our best player, scores a lot of goals.” After the class she talked to Pesetsky. He suggested Evile write a paper about it for the course, 24.902 (Introduction to Syntax).

Well, if it seems normal then…no, no, it’s still just clunky and wrong! Look, I try not to be too prescriptivist when it comes to language. English evolves, and that’s both good and fun. But this? This is nonsense. Every single example in the linked paper could just use the word “who” instead of the grotesque “whom of which” or “whom which”.