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A quick Internet search suggests that pied-piping in relative clauses was a natural feature of English even though it is loved by prescriptivists; it existed in older stages of the language, and it was declining by the 17th century, but it was preferred by some prescriptivists and survived into the modern times.

What is the history of pied-piping in relative infinitive constructions as in the phrase a room in which to read books? Was it actually more common (or obligatory) in the past as in relative clauses, or did prescriptivists make it up, thinking that the grammar of English should be like that of Latin?

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    I think this question would be easier to understand if you gave an example of a sentence using this construction. Are you talking about stuff like "a room in which to read books" or "a box in which to store the papers"? – sumelic Nov 23 '18 at 12:36
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    Would the sentence from your previous question qualify as an example: "I have no pen with which to write letters"? – sumelic Nov 23 '18 at 12:43
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    So far as I can see, pied-piped infinitives only arise in the context of other languages (particularly, German, Dutch, Latin). Can you give an example of what you're asking about in English, in the question text itself? – FumbleFingers Nov 23 '18 at 14:18
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    For those who don't understand the question, this is the best account I can find of pied-piping in English academia.edu/21102443/Pied-Piping – Stuart F Nov 23 '18 at 15:13
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    The question needs to be expanded to give more detail about what's being asked, along with some examples. Everything needed to understand the question should be provided in the question itself. – Jason Bassford Nov 23 '18 at 19:56
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"Pied piping" is a term used descriptively by linguists to describe certain relative expressions containing more than just a question word. I am unaware of any connection to prescriptivism. However, there could be some influence from Latin. The term itself is due to Robin Lakoff, whose dissertation was on Latin syntax.

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