Volume 10, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2213-1272
  • E-ISSN: 2213-1280
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



The aim of this paper is to examine the functionality of impoliteness strategies as rhetorical devices employed by acclaimed African American and White hip-hop artists. It focuses on the social and artistic function of the key discursive element of hip-hop, namely aggressive language. The data for this paper comprise songs of US African American and White performers retrieved from the November 2017 ‘TOP100 Chart’ for international releases on Spotify.com. A cursory look at the sub-corpora (Black male/ Black female/ White male/ White female artists’ sub-corpus) revealed the prominence of the ‘use taboo words’ impoliteness strategy. The analysis of impoliteness instantiations by considering race and gender as determining factors in the lyrics selection process unveiled that both male groups use impoliteness strategies more frequently than female groups. It is also suggested that Black male and White female singers employ impoliteness to resist oppression, offer a counter-narrative about their own experience and self (re)presentation and reinforce in group solidarity.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Alim, Sami H.
    2006 “African American English: Linguistic Introduction.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology16(1):135–146. 10.1525/jlin.2006.16.1.135
    https://doi.org/10.1525/jlin.2006.16.1.135 [Google Scholar]
  2. Allan, Keith
    2020 “The Semantics and Pragmatics of Three Potential Slurring Terms.” InStudies in Ethnopragmatics, Cultural Semantics, and Intercultural Communication, edited byKerry Mullan, Bert Peeters and Lauren Sadow, 163–183. Singapore: Springer. 10.1007/978‑981‑32‑9983‑2_9
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-32-9983-2_9 [Google Scholar]
  3. Androutsopoulos, Jannis
    2009 “Language and the Three Spheres of Hip Hop.” InGlobal Linguistic Flows: Hip Hop Cultures, Youth Identities, and the Politics of Language, edited bySami H. Alim, Awad Ibrahim and Alastair Pennycook, 43–62. New York: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Brown, Penelope, and Stephen C. Levinson
    1987Politeness: Some Universals in Language Usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511813085
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511813085 [Google Scholar]
  5. Bousfield, Derek
    2008 “Impoliteness in the Struggle for Power.” InImpoliteness in Language: Studies on its Interplay with Power in Theory and Practice, edited byDerek Bousfield and Miriam Locher, 127–154. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110208344
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110208344 [Google Scholar]
  6. 2010 “Researching Impoliteness and Rudeness: Issues and Definitions.” InInterpersonal Pragmatics, edited byMiriam A. Locher and Sage L. Graham, 102–134. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110214338.1.101
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110214338.1.101 [Google Scholar]
  7. Bousfield, Derek, and Jonathan Culpeper
    2008 “Impoliteness: Eclecticism and Diaspora. An Introduction to the Special Edition.” Journal of Politeness Research4:161–168. 10.1515/JPLR.2008.008
    https://doi.org/10.1515/JPLR.2008.008 [Google Scholar]
  8. Carter, Prudence
    2005Keepin’ It Real: School Success beyond Black and White. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Chaney, Cassandra, and Arielle Brown
    2016 “Representations and Discourses of Black Motherhood in Hip Hop and R&B over Time.” Journal of Hip Hop Studies39(1):12–46.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Cobb, Michael, and William Boettcher
    2007 “Ambivalent Sexism and Misogynistic Rap Music: Does Exposure to Eminem Increase Sexism?” Journal of Applied Social Psychology37(12):3025–3042. 10.1111/j.1559‑1816.2007.00292.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1559-1816.2007.00292.x [Google Scholar]
  11. Cramer, Jennifer, and Jill Hallet
    2010 “From Chi-Town to the Dirty-Dirty: Regional Identity Markers in US Hip Hop.” InThe Languages of Global Hip Hop, edited byMarina Terkourafi, 256–276. London: Continuum.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Crespo-Fernández, Eliecer
    2018 “Taboos in Speaking of Sex and Sexuality.” InThe Oxford Handbook of Taboo Words and Language, edited byKeith Allan. Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198808190.013.2
    https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198808190.013.2 [Google Scholar]
  13. Culpeper, Jonathan
    1996 “Towards an Anatomy in Impoliteness.” Journal of Pragmatics25:349–367. 10.1016/0378‑2166(95)00014‑3
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(95)00014-3 [Google Scholar]
  14. 2005 “Impoliteness and Entertainment in the Television Quiz Show: The Weakest Link.” Journal of Politeness Research1(1):35–72. 10.1515/jplr.2005.1.1.35
    https://doi.org/10.1515/jplr.2005.1.1.35 [Google Scholar]
  15. 2008 “Reflections on Impoliteness, Relational Work and Power.” InImpoliteness and Power: Studies on its Interplay with Power in Theory and Practice, edited byMiriam A. Locher and Derek Bousfield, 17–44. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. 2011 “Politeness and Impoliteness.” InPragmatics of Society, edited byGisle Andersen and Karin Aijmer, 391–436. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110214420.393
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110214420.393 [Google Scholar]
  17. 2018 “Taboo Language and Impoliteness”. InThe Oxford Handbook of Taboo Words and Language, edited byKeith Allan. Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:  10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198808190.013.2
    https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198808190.013.2 [Google Scholar]
  18. Culpeper, Jonathan, Derek Boushfield, and Anne Wichmann
    2003 “Impoliteness Revisited: With Special Reference to Dynamic and Prosodic Aspects.” Journal of Pragmatics35(10–11):1545–1579. 10.1016/S0378‑2166(02)00118‑2
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-2166(02)00118-2 [Google Scholar]
  19. Cutler, Cecelia
    2010 “Hip-Hop, White Immigrant Youth, and African American Vernacular English: Accommodation as an Identity Choice.” Journal of English Linguistics38(3):248–269. 10.1177/0075424210374551
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0075424210374551 [Google Scholar]
  20. Darling-Wolf, Fabienne
    2008 “Getting Over our ‘Illusion d’Optique’: From Globalization to Mondialisation (through French Rap).” Communication Theory18(2):187–209. 10.1111/j.1468‑2885.2008.00319.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2885.2008.00319.x [Google Scholar]
  21. Dynel, Marta
    2012 “Swearing Methodologically: The Impoliteness of Expletives in Anonymous Commentaries on YouTube.” Journal of English Studies10:25–50. 10.18172/jes.179
    https://doi.org/10.18172/jes.179 [Google Scholar]
  22. 2015 “The Landscape of Impoliteness Research.” Journal of Politeness Research11:329–354. 10.1515/pr‑2015‑0013
    https://doi.org/10.1515/pr-2015-0013 [Google Scholar]
  23. Garcés-Conejos Blitvich, Pilar
    2010 “A Genre Approach to the Study of Im-politeness.” International Review of Pragmatics2(1):46–94. 10.1163/187731010X491747
    https://doi.org/10.1163/187731010X491747 [Google Scholar]
  24. 2018 “Globalization, Transnational Identities, and Conflict Talk: The Superdiversity and the Complexity of the Latino Identity.” Journal of Pragmatics134:1–16.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Graham, Sage L., and Claire Hardaker
    2017 “(Im)politeness in Digital Communication.” InThe Palgrave Handbook of Linguistic (Im)politeness, edited byJonathan Culpeper, Michael Haugh, and Dániel Z. Kádár, 785–814. London: Palgrave Macmillan. 10.1057/978‑1‑137‑37508‑7_30
    https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-37508-7_30 [Google Scholar]
  26. Hassa, Samira
    2010 “Kiff my Zikmu: Symbolic Dimensions of Arabic, English and Verlan in French Rap Texts.” InThe Languages of Global Hip Hop, edited byMarina Terkourafi, 44–66. London: Continuum.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Hess, Franklin L.
    2010 “From American Form to Greek Performance: The Global Hip-Hop Poetics and Politics of the Imiskoumbria.” InThe Languages of Global Hip Hop, edited byMarina Terkourafi, 162–193. London: Continuum.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Iwamoto, Derek
    2003 “Tupac Shakur: Understanding the Identity Formation of Hyper-Masculinity of a Popular Hip-Hop Artist.” The Black Scholar33(2):44–49. 10.1080/00064246.2003.11413215
    https://doi.org/10.1080/00064246.2003.11413215 [Google Scholar]
  29. Jackson, Ronald
    2006Scripting the Black Masculine Body: Identity, Discourse, and Racial Politics in Popular Media. New York: State University of New York Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Kitwana, Bakari
    2002The Hip-Hop Generation: Young Blacks and the Crisis in African-American Culture. New York: Basic Books.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Kreyer, Rolf
    2015 “‘Funky Fresh Dressed to Impress’ A Corpus-linguistic View on Gender Roles in Pop Songs.” International Journal of Corpus Linguistics20(2):174–204. 10.1075/ijcl.20.2.02kre
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ijcl.20.2.02kre [Google Scholar]
  32. Kubrin, Charis
    2005 “Gangstas, Thugs, and Hustlas: Identity and the Code of the Street in Rap Music.” Social Problems5(1):360–378. 10.1525/sp.2005.52.3.360
    https://doi.org/10.1525/sp.2005.52.3.360 [Google Scholar]
  33. Littlejohn, John, and Michael Putnam
    2010 “Rammstein and Ostalgie: Longing for Yesteryear.” Popular Music and Society33(1):35–44. 10.1080/03007760802332714
    https://doi.org/10.1080/03007760802332714 [Google Scholar]
  34. Lorenzo-Dus, Nuria, Pilar Garcés-Conejos Blitvich, and Patricia Bou-Franch
    2011 “On-line Polylogues and Impoliteness: The Case of Postings Sent in Response to the Obama Reggaeton Youtube Video.” Journal of Pragmatics43(10):2578–2593. 10.1016/j.pragma.2011.03.005
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2011.03.005 [Google Scholar]
  35. Low, Bronwen
    2007 “Hip-Hop, Language, and Difference: The N-Word as a Pedagogical Limit-Case.” Journal of Language, Identity & Education6(2):147–160. 10.1080/15348450701341345
    https://doi.org/10.1080/15348450701341345 [Google Scholar]
  36. Mitchell, Tony
    2001Global Noise: Rap and Hip Hop Outside the USA. Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. O’Brien, Jodi
    2009Encyclopedia of Gender and Society. Thousand Oaks: Sage. 10.4135/9781412964517
    https://doi.org/10.4135/9781412964517 [Google Scholar]
  38. Penny, Joel
    2012 “‘We Don’t Wear Tight Clothes’: Gay Panic and Queer Style in Contemporary Hip Hop.” Popular Music and Society35(3):321–332. 10.1080/03007766.2011.578517
    https://doi.org/10.1080/03007766.2011.578517 [Google Scholar]
  39. Pennycook, Alastair
    2007 “Language, Localization, and the Real: Hip-Hop and the Global Spread of Authenticity.” Journal of Language, Identity & Education6(2):101–115. 10.1080/15348450701341246
    https://doi.org/10.1080/15348450701341246 [Google Scholar]
  40. Phillips, Layli, Kerri Reddick-Morgan, and Dionne Stephens
    2005 “Oppositional Consciousness within an Oppositional Realm: The Case of Feminism and Womanism in Rap and Hip Hop, 1976–2004.” Journal of African American History90(1):19–32. 10.1086/JAAHv90n3p253
    https://doi.org/10.1086/JAAHv90n3p253 [Google Scholar]
  41. Sagredos, Christos, and Evelin Nikolova
    2022 “‘Slut I Hate you’: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Gendered Conflict on YouTube.” Journal of Language Aggression and Conflict. 10.1075/jlac.00065.sag
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jlac.00065.sag [Google Scholar]
  42. Simeziane, Sarah
    2010 “Roma Rap and the Black Train: Minority Voices in Hungarian Hip-Hop.” InThe Languages of Global Hip-Hop, edited byMarina Terkourafi, 96–119. London: Continuum.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Smith, Hiram L.
    2019 “Has Nigga Been Reappropriated as a Term of Endearment?: A Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis.” American Speech94(4):420–477. 10.1215/00031283‑7706537
    https://doi.org/10.1215/00031283-7706537 [Google Scholar]
  44. Soleymani, Mohammad, Michael Caro, Erik Schmidt, Cheng-Ya Sha, and Yi Hsuan Yang
    2013 “1000 Songs for Emotional Analysis of Music.” CrowdMM ’13: Proceedings of the 2nd ACM International Workshop on Crowdsourcing for Multimedia1–6. doi:  10.1145/2506364.2506365
    https://doi.org/10.1145/2506364.2506365 [Google Scholar]
  45. Squires, Catherine, Laura Kohn-Wood, Tabbye Chavous, and Prudence Carter
    2006 “Examining African American Female Adolescent Sexuality within Mainstream Hip Hop Culture Using a Womanist-ecological Model of Human Development.” Sex Roles55(1):725–737. 10.1007/s11199‑006‑9127‑7
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-006-9127-7 [Google Scholar]
  46. Verlan, Sergey
    2003French Connection. St. Andrä/Wördern: Hannibal.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Welch, Michael, Eric Price, and Nana Yankey
    2002 “Moral Panic over Youth Violence: Wilding and the Manufacture of Menace in the Media.” Youth and Society34(1):3–30. 10.1177/0044118X02034001001
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0044118X02034001001 [Google Scholar]
  48. Williams, Angela
    2010 “‘We ain’t Terrorists but we Droppin’ Bombs’: Language Use and Localization in Egyptian Hip Hop.” InThe Languages of Global Hip-Hop, edited byMarina Terkourafi, 67–95. London: Continuum.
    [Google Scholar]
  49. Williams, Melvin
    2017 “White Chicks with a Gangsta’ Pitch: Gendered Whiteness in United States Rap Culture (1990–2017).” Journal of Hip Hop Studies4(1):50–93.
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): corpus linguistics; critical discourse analysis; hip-hop; identity; impoliteness
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error