Examining Racial Taboo through X-phemism in the TV Show Black-ish

  • Raquel Sánchez Ruiz Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha
  • Isabel López Cirugeda Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha


Taboos occur in everyday life as part of language and culture. One typical way of addressing them is through euphemism; however, sometimes the taboo is broken in informal, interpersonal or joking situations in phenomena like friendly banter or playing the dozens. With this in mind, this article aims to analyze the linguistic resources employed in the US sitcom Black-ish (2014-) to convey the boundaries between the need for respect for black racial backgrounds and the breaking of existing taboos for shock value or in friendly environments within the humorous context projected by the series. To this end, we rely on appraisal theory. The results will show how the series uses x-phemism and polarization as major resources of the black community to reflect their assimilation, separation, integration or marginalization in the United States in the twenty-first century.Keywords: racial taboo; x-phemism; playing the dozens; Black-ish; humor; appraisal theory

Author Biographies

Raquel Sánchez Ruiz, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha
Dr. Raquel Sánchez Ruiz is an Assistant Professor (tenure track) at the Faculty of Education in Albacete (UCLM), where she has been teaching in the Department of Modern Languages (English) for nine years. She has published papers on linguistics and discourse analysis in peer-reviewed journals and is interested in political discourse, discourse analysis and taboo.
Isabel López Cirugeda, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha
Dr. Isabel López Cirugeda is an Assistant Professor (tenure track) in the Department of Modern Languages (English) of the Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha. She has been teaching at the Faculty of Education of Albacete (Spain) for sixteen years, on both BA and MA courses. Her research isrelated to political discourse analysis and taboo studies. 


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