This article was originally published at: https://breaking9to5.com/linguistic-mysteries-whom-of-which-revealed/

An MIT student, Kanoe Evile ’23, alongside linguistics professor David Pesetsky, has stumbled upon an emerging English expression, “whom of which,” sparking immediate interest in what this phrase could reveal about the intricacies of syntax.

The Discovery of “Whom of Which”

This curiosity was ignited during a discussion on relative clauses in a linguistics lesson, when Evile mentioned the phrase. Surprisingly, in Pesetsky’s long career at MIT, he had never encountered this term before. Upon further investigation, they discovered that it had been largely overlooked by scholars, and thus decided to embark on a research project to scrutinize its origins, usage, and potential implications for the English language.

A New Research Endeavor: Uncovering the Purpose of “Whom of Which”

Determined to explore the function of “whom of which” in language usage, Evile and Pesetsky initiated an independent research venture in early 2023. They found that individuals consistently employ the phrase in the same way as “whom,” indicating that it cannot be dismissed as mere nonsense. “People are not being senseless or uneducated with things like this,” Pesetsky states. Instead, the researchers argue that such usages may represent an evolving language pattern, mirroring the natural process by which linguistic structures adapt and change with time. They further stress the importance of acknowledging and understanding these fluctuations, rather than disregarding them as erroneous or inconsequential.

Understanding the Significance of Syntax and Sentence Structure

By examining the linguistic components of “whom of which,” the researchers aim to shed light on the diversity and harmony within human language, specifically focusing on syntax and sentence structure. Understanding these elements allows linguists to discover how various languages generate and convey meaning in uniquely different ways. Furthermore, the identification of common patterns and structures found across languages highlights the innate human capacity to effectively communicate complex thoughts and express emotions.

Exploring “Wh-Movement” and the Connection to “Whom of Which”

The emergence of “whom of which” is closely associated with the phenomenon known as “wh-movement,” which involves the rearrangement of specific sentences featuring wh-words such as turning a statement into a question. One example would be changing the sentence, “He bought the cake” into “Which cake did he buy?”, thus creating a wh-question that employs the wh-word “which.” Gaining insight into “whom of which” necessitates an understanding of linguistic structuring, where the respective wh-words function as interrogative pronouns tasked with extracting and emphasizing information, often pertaining to individuals or entities.

Delving into Pied Piping and Its Role in Sentence Formation

Another concept related to “whom of which” is pied piping, a notion introduced by John Roberts Ross, wherein not just the wh-word but also adjacent words are moved to the start of a sentence. In this specific case, the wh-word effectively transports nearby phrases and components to the sentence’s beginning, crafting a unique syntactic structure. While pied piping is less common in everyday speech, it contributes significantly to the overall complexity and flexibility of natural languages.

Contemplating the Future Implications and Potential Conversations

Ultimately, the investigation of “whom of which” could lead to groundbreaking discoveries in the realm of syntax and sentence formation, sparking intriguing dialogue among linguistic scholars. Studying this peculiar subject matter might even encourage language enthusiasts to challenge conventional grammar rules and delve into the complexities of the English language. The intellectual debates that emerge from such analysis hold the potential to substantially expand our comprehension of human communication and further enrich our appreciation for the dynamic world of linguistics.

FAQs: “Whom of Which” Discovery and Research

What is “whom of which”?

“Whom of which” is an emerging English expression discovered by MIT student Kanoe Evile and linguistics professor David Pesetsky. They found that people consistently used this phrase in a similar manner as “whom” and believe that it may represent an evolving language pattern.

Why is the phrase “whom of which” significant?

The significance of “whom of which” lies in its potential to reveal insights about the intricacies of syntax and sentence structure. Exploring this phrase may help linguists better understand language evolution and the diverse ways languages generate and convey meaning.

What is “wh-movement”?

“Wh-movement” is a phenomenon related to the formation of wh-questions with wh-words, such as “who,” “what,” or “which.” It involves rearranging specific sentence elements to create questions, like converting “He bought the cake” into “Which cake did he buy?” Understanding “wh-movement” is crucial for studying “whom of which,” as it deals with the movement of wh-words in sentence structures.

How does pied piping relate to “whom of which”?

Pied piping is a concept introduced by John Roberts Ross in which not just the wh-word but also adjacent words are moved to the start of a sentence. This movement creates unique syntactic structures, adding complexity and flexibility to natural languages. It is relevant to the study of “whom of which” as it explores the movement of wh-words and phrases in sentence formation.

What are the potential implications of studying “whom of which”?

Investigating “whom of which” may lead to groundbreaking discoveries in the field of syntax and sentence formation, sparking intriguing conversations among linguistic scholars. It could also encourage language enthusiasts to challenge conventional grammar rules and analyze the complexities of the English language, expanding our understanding of human communication and enriching the study of linguistics.

First Reported on: mit.edu
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Brett Jordan; Pexels; Thank you!

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This article was originally published at: https://breaking9to5.com/linguistic-mysteries-whom-of-which-revealed/

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