Entrapped in the ice, he finds the sinners guilty of treacheries against those who with they had special relationships.

The above sentence is part of a high school lecture in a Canadian film I saw the other day, and I was quite surprised to notice this type of invertion of a relative pronoun around a preposition. Normally, I would expect to hear something like: "... against those with whom they had special relationships." or "... against those whom/who/that/- they had special relationships with."

The only thing I managed to find online was the following paper article: https://repository.upenn.edu/pwpl/vol23/iss1/32/ , which examines a similar type of inversion,—or 'swiping' as the writter calls it—, of a wh-word around a preposition, occurring in sluiced or coordinated wh-questions. It, however, makes no reference to relative clauses, which is my case.

  • You expect right. The example given is ungrammatical. It has nothing to so with 'sluicing', which is sometimes referred to in formal grammar, where it occurs in subordinate interrogative clauses, e.g. A: They got in without a key. B: I wonder how.
    – BillJ
    Jul 19, 2022 at 17:28
  • Were these words spoken by a narrator in an educational film shown in a Canadian high school? Could you be more detailed about how they came to be in the film, and what type of film it is? Jul 19, 2022 at 18:06
  • I am tempted to ask if the speaker had eaten too much bacon. Jul 19, 2022 at 18:07
  • @MichaelHarvey The film is a 2018 Canadian psychological horror drama film called "Look away", and the scene where these words are spoken is of a high school class where the teacher is delivering a lesson while making use of a PowerPoint presentation.
    – Apostolos
    Jul 19, 2022 at 18:36
  • In which case, please see my answer below. Jul 19, 2022 at 18:40

1 Answer 1


Your text looks like an revised extract from John Ciardi's commentary accompanying his 1954 translation of Dante's Inferno, The original text uses the conventional word order. Possibly the producers of the film made a revision to avoid copyright issues, but 'against who with' makes me cringe. Possibly there is a plot reason for the gross error of English. Are you sure you transcribed it correctly?

At the bottom of the well Dante finds himself on a huge frozen lake. This is Cocytus, the Ninth Circle, the fourth and last great water of Hell, and here, fixed in the ice, each according to his guilt, are punished sinners guilty of treachery against those to whom they were bound by special ties

(Canto XXXI John Ciardi 1954)

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