Technically, your sentence is not very academic, although it is frequent.
The problem with this question is that the most formal construction: "avec qui parlé-je ?" sounds like 18th century speech, because inversion Verb-Subject pronoun with 1st group verbs is always weird (addition of an acute accent to make it more or less "pronounceable").
Therefore, the French would rephrase the question as such to make it formal:
Avec qui dois-je parler ? (if context is asking whom you should talk to)
Avec qui suis-je en train de parler ? (if context is asking whom you are currently talking to)
And the informal/relaxed structure is the one proposed by Duolingo here.
Thank you Sitesurf. Despite studying the 'formulas', I did not reach your conclusions. This first lesson on questions is extremely confusing as it proposes polar constructions; either very literary or too relaxed, and wading through it is a task for those with a lot of determination and stamina. That the language has different registers for asking questions is not the problem, but, the way in which they have been introduced is. I do think that the questions unit needs to be revised and expanded, and that each 'chapter' be discrete in its register. I also propose that the most natural constructions be the bulk of the exercises, since what would actually be said by a native -today- is what a beginner wishes to learn, first. I realise that I should probably be directing my views elsewhere, this example however provides the basis of my argument; so, if you think that I ought to do that, please tell me so. (If other learners agree or disagree with my point of view, I would like to know the hows and whys.) Back to the battlefield, now..
I agree that it is difficult, just through examples and with no insight on the whys and hows, to "feel" what is natural, what is formal, what is pompous, what is too familiar/relaxed... Indeed there are several French languages, divided in written / oral, themselves subdivided in a number of branches. My point is not to discourage you, just to point to the fact that it needs time and patience to learn French. I also agree that Duo is not always consistent when it comes to registers. Too often, they propose a relaxed translation against a formal original sentence. I reported many times on lack of accuracy here, but not much has changed since. Probably they would need to proceed by step, with specific lessons on specific registers. The only thing I would advise is that you complement Duo with other resources on the Web (like French.about.com) and robust dictionaries and that you also use this forum facility to ask as many questions as you need to get precise answers to your questions. Other learners (and French speakers like me) will help you. That is the real beauty of Duo.
Besides the thoughtful clarification you provide, you've become intrisic to my French quest. Although I do use About and whatever resources I can afford and source, you give me a sense of 'security'. I also appreciate your feedback whenever I come across it in other learner's posts; in fact, I open the discussions even when I'm not searching for clarification, just in case there's a pearl from you. Thank you for being so encouraging and thorough.
This dummy T is added for pronunciation only, because "parle il" would not sound right.
This addition with hyphens on both sides is required with all inversions where the verb is from the 1st group (infinitive ending in -er) and all 3 pronouns "il, elle, on":
- parle-t-il ? parle-t-elle ? parle-t-on ?
- mange-t-il ? mange-t-elle ? mange-t-on ?
Avec qui suis-je en train de parler ? can be correct to translate a continuous present if you want to stress that the action is in progress now.
Remember that French does not have any continuous verbal forms, so whenever you have "am/are/is Verb-ing" to translate to French, you will preferably use the present tense.
True, but almost no one, written or spoken in the US uses "whom" correctly or consistenly (not sure other English speaking countries) and so Who am I speaking with, or who is talking, or who am I speaking to" are the most typical/usable functional translations. Only customer service representatives who are trained to say "with whom" use it ;)
Yes, the confusion comes from the similarities between the relative pronouns qui/que and the interrogative pronouns qui/que.
- Subject (people, animal, thing) "qui": ... l'homme/le chien/ la maison qui apparaît ici: "qui" is the subject of "apparaît".
- Object (people, animal, thing) "que": ... l'homme/le chien/la maison que je vois ici: "qu" is the direct object of "vois".
- People "qui" (who/whom/whose):
-- Qui est là ? (subject) = Who's there?
-- Tu vois qui ? (direct object)= Whom can you see?
-- De qui tu parles ? (indirect object) = Of/About whom are you talking?
-- A qui est ce manteau ? (indirect object) = Whose is this coat?
- Things "que/quoi" (what):
-- Qu'est-ce ? (subject) = What is it?
-- Que sera votre choix ? = What will be your choice?
-- Que fais-tu ? (direct object) = What are you doing?
-- Il y a quoi ici ? (direct object) = What's in here?
So, the interrogative pronoun "que" is a subject with the verb "être" only. With other verbs, you have to use "qu'est-ce qui + verb":
-- Qu'est-ce qui sent si bon ? = What smells so good?
-- Qu'est-ce qui changé ? = What has changed?
-- Qu'est-ce qui ne va pas chez lui ? = What's wrong with him?
- People, animal, thing "lequel, laquelle, lesquels, lesquelles":
-- Lequel de vous a faim ? (subject) = Which (one) of you is hungry?
-- Lesquels vois-tu ? (direct object) = Which (ones) can you see?
-- De laquelle parles-tu ? (indirect object) = Of/About which one are you talking?
I think that the correct phrase should be: "With whom am I speaking?" or "To whom am I talking?"