Volume 23, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1572-0373
  • E-ISSN: 1572-0381



Several lines of research within developmental psychology, experimental semiotics and language origins studies have recently converged in their interest in pantomime as a system of bodily communication distinct from both language (spoken or signed) and nonlinguistic gesticulation. These approaches underscore the effectiveness of pantomime, which despite lack of semiotic conventions is capable of communicating complex meanings. However, very little research is available on the structural underpinnings of this effectiveness, that is, the specific properties of pantomime that determine its communicative success. To help fill in this gap, we conducted an exploratory rating study aimed at identifying those properties of pantomime that facilitate its understanding. We analysed an existing corpus of 602 recordings of whole-body re-enactments of short transitive events, coding each of them for 6 properties, and found out that the presence of salient elements (conspicuous objects in a specific semantic space), image mapping (representing the physical orientation of the object), and gender markers (distinguishing between the represented characters) increased the guessability of pantomimes.

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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): bodily mimesis; communicative success; non-verbal communication; pantomime
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