In this theoretical monograph, Edwin Williams demonstrates that when syntax is economical, it economizes on shape distortion rather than on distance. According to Williams, this new notion of economy calls for a new architecture for the grammatical system—in fact, for a new notion of derivation. The new architecture offers a style of clausal embedding—the Level Embedding Scheme—that predictively ties together the locality, reconstructive behavior, and "target" type of any syntactic process in a way that is unique to the model.
This important monograph summarizes, rethinks, and extends a decade of the author's work on therole assignments—the ways in which the roles implied by verbs of a given type play out in terms of position and other syntactic functions. The study of theta roles and the locality of theta-role assignment leads into many interesting areas of linguistic theory, such as scope, the ECP, X-bar theory, binding theory, and the weak crossover condition; Williams's reconstruction thus offers a systematic integration of a remarkably wide range of syntactic phenomena.