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.
HardcoverOut of Print ISBN: 9780262232258 295 pp. | 9 in x 6 in
PaperbackOut of Print ISBN: 9780262731508 295 pp. | 9 in x 6 in
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.
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.
Kobe Shoin University