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. Williams calls his theory "Representation Theory" to put the notion of economy at the forefront. Syntax, in this theory, is a series of representations of one sublanguage in another.
About the Author
Edwin Williams is Professor of Linguistics at Princeton University.
"Minimalism has inspired many different attempts at making precise in what sense the architecture of grammar is 'economical.' Williams's theory that grammar is constituted by a restricted number of levels of representation linked by shape-preserving mappings constitutes an original and unorthodox blend of linguistic theorizing. It is a controversial idea that yields strikingly insightful analyses, tied together into a cogent and engaging argument."
—Gennaro Chierchia, Department of Psychology, University of Milan-Bicocca, Italy
"Williams's Representation Theory sheds new light on every linguistic paradigm that has been widely discussed in the government and binding and minimalist literatures. For a range of problems for which derivational solutions have remained unsatisfying, Williams proposes simple one-step explanations in terms of mismatches between his levels of representation. This return to a theory of levels in many ways recalls the best insights of much traditional grammar."
—Joseph Emonds, Kobe Shoin University