I found Chris' post very helpful. Merci! What remains unclear is the use of de qui. Couple of specific questions 1) Can I say both "La fille dont je parle" or "la fille de qui je parle"? Or does the verbal clause (parler de) require dont even if it's a person? 2) Do I use de qui with a prep phrase in stead of duquel (and its derivatives)? For example, "La fille près de qui je me suis assise" Would "'de laquelle" be equally acceptable in that sentence?
Yes, you could say La fille de qui je parle, because you are talking about a person. This wouldn't work when talking about inanimate objects and animals.
Also in your second example, both versions work: près de qui and près de laquelle.
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