This paper centers around the issues related to economy principles in linguistics. In the Minimalist Program, there are two kinds of economy, namely 'methodological economy' and 'substantive economy'. The former requires a simple and natural theory without ad hoc stipulations while the latter is mainly concerned about the nature of the grammar.Substantive economy can be further divided into two types: 'economy of derivation' and 'economy of representation'. In this paper, the nature of economy of representation will be explored. Particularly, it is proposed that Universal Grammar has a principle of economy of representation dubbed as 'structural economy principle', according to which language structure should be constructed minimally. Consequences of this principle will be discussed by using the data from Chinese 'verbless' sentences.Three types of Chinese verbless sentences are discussed in this paper, namely nominal predicative sentences, empty copula sentences, and empty verb sentences. It is argued that nominal predicative sentences are bare nominal small clauses. The predicate nominal is predicated of the subject directly without any copula. Unlike nominal predicative sentences, there is a phonologically empty copula in empty copula sentences. The complement of the empty copula is a predicate nominal.
Although there is also an empty verb in empty verb sentences, it is not a copula; instead, it can be either an intransitive verb that selects a frequency/duration phrase or a transitive verb that selects an object.Based on the Chinese verbless sentences, it is observed that nominal predication without a copula is the 'default' option. If a verb is needed, its existence is required by the extended projections as well as thematic considerations. In a structure having a verb, an empty verb is always preferred unless it is prohibited by morphology or some functional considerations. It is argued that the existence of Chinese verbless sentences supports the structural economy principle.'Minimality' of the structural economy principle is relative, not absolute, and violable. Unlike economy of derivation, globality seems to be involved in economy of representation. The nature of violability and globality of economy of representation is perhaps related to language use, sharing some properties of the creative aspect of language use.