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In an episode of How I Met Your Mother, Marshall addresses the following sentence to Kim Kardashian: "You're right, super hot lady who my wife keeps telling me why you're famous but I keep forgetting."

This sentences sounds technically "incorrect" - usually when there's a relative pronoun like "who", the antecedent is not restated. E.g., we'd say "lady who is famous" rather than "lady who she is famous." But in Marshall's sentence it seems like there's an overabundance of subjects.

I myself probably use similar sentences regularly, simply because in English it seems that there is no good alternative. Is there a better way of stating Marshall's sentence? Any insights into this type of usage?

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  • Marshall is simply nervous or something, I guess. So proper sentence structure cannot be expected. (I've seen the episode long time ago)
    – NVZ
    Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 9:43
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    I think there are two main problems: first, it’s not at all clear what the function is of the relative pronoun “who”, since it’s neither subject nor object of the relative clause, and secondly, there is a further subordinate clause, the interrogative why you’re famous stuck in there. An alternative might be: You’re right, super hot lady, the reason for whose fame my wife keeps telling me, but I keep forgetting. Still clunky, but probably understandable.
    – BillJ
    Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 10:02
  • In general, taking an example from a show like this wouldn't be the best sample of proper English structure.
    – Dale
    Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 10:30

1 Answer 1

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In the example, you is a resumptive pronoun. It should be omitted, since it is coreferential with the relative pronoun who of the relative clause, yet it cannot be omitted because of an island constraint. English speakers produce such constructions frequently, but judge them to be ungrammatical.

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