This paper relies on the idea that human language evolved to modify/change the beliefs and attitudes of other people, in order to make them act in a certain way. Such an idea is in line with a more general model of animal communication, which sees it as a way to influence others’ behaviors. Although forms of persuasion are present in non-human communication, it is suggested that, in the transition from animal communication to language, humans developed a specific and more powerful way to influence others: the telling of stories. Looking at the cognitive architectures and the expressive systems which allowed our ancestors to cope with the selective pressures of a narrative-based communication, it is proposed that pantomime was the early means of expression of narrative persuasion. From this point of view, pantomime represented a form of protolanguage, providing a platform for the progressive development of modern-day narrative.
Ferretti, F., Adornetti, I., Chiera, A. (2022). Narrative pantomime: a protolanguage for persuasive communication. LINGUA, 271, 1-16 [10.1016/j.lingua.2022.103247].