Smith ADM & Höfler S (2017) From metaphor to symbols and grammar: the cumulative cultural evolution of language. In: Power C, Finnegan M & Callan H (eds.) Human Origins: contributions from social anthropology. Methodology & History in Anthropology, 30. Berghahn, pp. 153-179. http://www.berghahnbooks.com/title/PowerHuman#toc
We suggest that there a common explanation for the emergence of symbolism and the emergence of grammatical structures; both are products of the same cognitive and cultural mechanisms, which have been at the foundation of all human communication from its prelinguistic beginnings to the present day. We argue that the capacity for figurative use witnessed in the creation of novel metaphors plays a crucial part in this process, which underpins a cultural origin for language from these fundamental cognitive properties.
metaphor; language evolution; symbols; grammaticalisation; cultural evolution; ostensive-inferential communication; ratchet effect