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 General Debate Dictionary

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Number of posts : 7
Registration date : 2008-07-30

PostSubject: General Debate Dictionary   Tue Oct 28, 2008 8:46 pm

NOTE: This an overdue answer to your emails and inquiries regarding debate jargon. These are very general definitions of jargon
within debate. The application of these terms varies slightly with different forms of debate.

Since this is not completely alphabetically organized, just press ctrl+search for PC or tab for Mac.

I'll eventually add more terms and update. If there are any other terms that you do not understand or need further clarification, feel free to ask.

Tournaments Terms

Flight – A full debate consisting of half of a round. In practice, most tournaments are “doubleflighted,”
meaning that there are two debates per round - an “A flight” and a “B flight.” Each
debater only debates for one flight, but judges usually have to judge both. This method of setting
up tournaments is good fo r debaters, because they have “off flights” in which to pre-flow, eat,
etc. Hence, a judge at a standard 3-round MHL will see 6 debates if the tournament is doubleflighted.
Breaking – Making it into an elimination round, such as “double-octos,” “octos,” “quarters,”
“semis,” etc. For example, “I broke to quarters” is debate-speak for making it to the top 8 places
in a given tournament. See here for further details.

LD – Lincoln-Douglas, a type of one-on-one value debate over a resolution that changes every
two months.

TOCs – Tournament of Champions.

Qual – short for ‘qualifier,’ which means placing at a certain level among a certain number of
debaters. See here for further details.

Suit – an essential piece of equipment for every debater. If you are female, skirts should be
below the knee. The idea is to look like a conservative lawyer. I do not care of you are a flaming hippie. Suit up.

Schematic, or Schem – A list of who debates whom, in which room and with what judge. These
are usually printed out right before rounds start. Those holding copies of schems are quickly
swarmed by crowds of debates and judges (follow them). Debaters are listed by school and code
(initials). For example, Horace Greeley KB.

Scoring Terms

Ballot – a piece of paper, often in triplicate, on which judges write who wins the debate and
comments about the debaters. Judges get them from Tab or a clearly marked ballot table.\

Judging paradigm - is the method a debate judge uses to evaluate the debate round. There are many
different intricacies involved in judging paradigms. The more advanced the debate judge, the more intricacies are
usually involved in their decision-making. I will focus on a few of the more general paradigms used by judges when they
are first starting to judge. Some of these are a little more dated than others, but all are still used in some form or other in
debate rounds across the nation.

  • The first paradigm is often referred to as “tabula rasa” or “blank slate”. In this paradigm, the judge attempts to
    leave all preconceived notions and beliefs behind when they enter the competition room. This paradigm is designed to
    provide the debaters with freedom in argument choice and to decrease judge intervention. It

  • The next paradigm is “policy maker”. In this paradigm the judge takes on the role of a political policy maker
    (e.g. a congressperson or senator) who will decide whether to endorse the affirmative’s policy at the end of the round or not.
    In this paradigm, most judges will still attempt to take on a “tabula rasa” point of view, but they hold the affirmative to the
    burden of presenting a policy that can be evaluated in a political framework and the negative to the burden of either
    demonstrating the policy to be flawed in some way or of offering an alternative policy option that competes with the affirmative
    proposal (see counterplan theory for more explanation on this). The judge will typically look to cost-benefit analysis based on the
    arguments presented in the round and will only vote for the affirmative if the benefits of adopting their policy option clearly outweigh the costs.

  • The next paradigm, the “stock issues” paradigm, is one that is often used by newer judges because instruction
    sheets often use these categories of analysis when instructing new judges how to evaluate a round. In the stock issues
    paradigm, the affirmative has the responsibility to uphold or prove they meet the five policy debate stock issues of
    Significance and Harms, Inherency, Solvency and Topicality. In this paradigm, if the negative can prove the affirmative
    does not meet/prove any ONE of these issues, the judge votes for the negative. In this paradigm, these issues are often
    referred to as “prime facie” burdens, meaning the affirmative must meet/prove them on-face in the 1AC.

Tab – short for tabulation, this is where the organizers of the tournament create schematics and
make decisions (usually with a photocopier nearby). Sometimes it may be near the judges’
lounge, sometimes not. If judges have any questions, arguments, or issues, Tab is the place to
get answers.

Low-Point Win – When the winning debater has lower speaker points than the losing debater.
Speaker Points – Points awarded to debaters. Some ballots list them as on a scale from 0 to 30,
but it’s a general rule that speaker points are on a 22-30 scale. Anything less than 22 is
effectively disasterous.

Timer – an essential part of debate, whether you’re a judging or debating. Be sure to have one –
any ordinary kitchen timer will do (I use an egg timer myself). Don’t be stuck using the clocks
on the school wall, as they are notoriously inaccurate.

Debate Terms

Advantage - A benefit to passing the plan. A public health assitance case, for example, might claim to decrease disease
as an advantage.

Brightline- Brightline is one of the standards in a topicality argument. The ‘brightline’ is an imaginary line drawn between what
is and is not topical.For example, the negative team can argue that there is a clear ‘brightline’ between what is and is not
topical, and the affirmative’s plan or advantages either cross that line or blur the line. Simply put, to blur the brightline means
that the affirmative relies on a grey area between what is and is not topical.

Brink -Proof that an event is very close to happening -- for instance "The USA is on the brink of an economic recession". It is
similar to the idea of "threshold" -- although there is a difference. A "threshold" is the point at which the event happens. EX: What is the
"threshold" for when water freezes ?.. 32 degrees.
In essence, the "brink" is proof that we are "near the threshold". In debate, the concepts of "brink" and "threshold" come-up
most often when debating disadvantages -- though they could just as easily arise when debating an affirmative advantage
(especially if the affirmative advantage is designed to remedy a predictive event).

Case, or constructive – a set of reasons, supporting facts, and arguments that shows why we
should affirm or negate the resolution. Most debaters type them up (or handwrite parts on the

Cross-examination, or CX – an opportunity for one debater to ask the other questions. They can
be about anything, but they should be relevant and designed to get admissions or concessions
from the other. CX is one-way in LD debate.

Crystallize down the flow – instead of crystallizing at the bottom of the second rebuttal, some
debaters choose to argue down the flow and then make certain points voting issues. This can be
confusing if it’s not signposted well.

Rebuttal - refuting by offering a contrary contention or argument.

Resolution – the topic being debated.

Card – a piece of evidence, usually a quote from an expert, that proves a point. NOTE: cards
should be self- warranting. For example, it’s not enough that Professor John Nash of Princeton
University makes an assertion, like “cheese is good,” for it to be true (which is actually a fallacy)

"Cutting a Card" refers to the process of underlining, tagging, and citing a piece of evidence. Evidence should always be cut
in accurate context and in accord with the author's intent. Cards should always begin and end at the beginnings and ends
of paragraphs to ensure that the immediate context of the argument is included, and the citation should always
be inclusive enough so that another team reading your evidence can find the card through their own research. The
tag should be a brief summary of the argument in the evidence and how the argument implicates the debate.
Criterion or value criterion – How you get to, measure, or define your value. For example, a
value might be Societal Welfare, and the criterion could be Preservation of Rights. Or:
Democracy (value) via Preserving Accountability (criterion). It generally begins with a gerund.

Contention – a large argument or set of smaller arguments that supports a case. They often have
subpoints, flowed like this, with abbreviations
Subpoint A or just (A)
(C) and so on.
Subpoint – exactly what it sounds like. That is, a point that is a part of the larger umbrella
(we’re lazy, so we don’t hyphenate it)

Prep time - time to write down some responses in preparation for the rebuttal; total prep time can
be 3-5 minutes depending on the tournament)

Flow – a piece of paper with many rows and columns on which you write down an outline of
what the debaters are saying. Also can be used to refer to a written outline of all the arguments
in a debate: see next.

“Going down the flow” – just what it sounds like, that is, responding to arguments staring at the
“top” or beginning of the previous speech and going to the “bottom” or the end. This what good
debaters do: they respond to arguments in a linear or line-by- line fashion, rather than jumping
“all over the flow.”

Signpost – to indicate where one is on the flow. For example: “In my opponent’s second
contention subpoint A, he/she said [tagline]…” Second contention subpoint A can be
abbreviated C2A.

Claim – an assertion.

Drop – When a debater does not address or respond to a subpoint or argument. In other words,
they didn’t refute it, so they implicitly agree with it. NOTE: drops must be impacted to count.
It’s not enough to say your opponent didn’t refute your argument – you must say why it matters
(impacting – why that point is so important, and the fact that your opponent agrees with you
means you win the round).

Empirical Solvency -If the plan (or a pilot project very similar to the plan) was implemented in the past and succeeded,
the affirmative will often read solvency evidence from the previous example of plan, claiming that “X empirically
proves the solvency.”

Extend - To refer to an argument made previously in the debate, and “pull it across” into the present speech. “Extend the
1ac solvency evidence,” would be an argument made in the 2ac or 1ar.I’d recommend literally drawing an arrow from one speech to
the next to indicate that the same point is being argued in both speeches.

Existential barrier - is a specific type of Inherent Barrier. An existential barrier is more a description of the
current situation in which there is no implementation of plan. For example, the inherency argument would be
that “plan is not occurring in the status quo” instead of “X is preventing the plan from occurring in the status quo.”

Fairness: A question concerning whether a certain practice (conditionality, for instance) is equitable to both teams.

Feminism: The term “feminism” references a movement to increase women’s rights to an equal standing with men within social
as well as political settings. The argument is based on the notion that there are fixed gender and sexual identities
created within society that place women at a disadvantage in relation to men, but that these identities are a false representation
of the way in which individuals behave. As a debate argument, feminism is generally a kritik that is frequently read on
the negative that is impacted in patriarchy.

Frontline - A frontline is the first wave of attacks a team makes to an opponent's position. Almost always, the term "frontline" refers to:
a) blocked-up materials -- usually integrating evidence and (some) analytics
b) a 1NC block versus an Affirmative advantage or a 2AC block versus a Neg's offcase argument

Games Theory - A paradigm governing the way a round is judged that views the round as a game--the object is
to provide fair rules so that the contest can be competitive and enjoyable.

Gendered Language -The generic "mankind" in your evidence is bad because it marginalizes women. Calling your female opponents "he" is even worse. The impact is an in-round "discursive" impact that says the language we use shapes reality (this is known as language is "epistemic" meaning "reality-creating"). The judge should vote against the offending team and use the "ballot as a weapon" against marginalization. "CongressMEN" is another link, often found in Politics cards.

Ground-The parameters of the resolution or a particular debate theory. Ground applies to an amorphous assessment
of what the affirmative can advocate and how the negative can challenge that advocacy. Ground is also connected to “fair ground.”

Ground-Specification -Ground Specification (also called G-Spec or Ground-Spec) is an argument that when the Supreme Court
overrules a case, the plan text must include the grounds that the case is overruled on. It is argued that the ground is important
because it would open up alternate ground counter plans (which could be important for legal education or negative fairness). It is also
often argue that it is real world because nearly all court cases (in the real world) include the grounds on which a case is overruled.

Harm– something bad that happens because of the position one side takes. For example, if Aff
is advocating that democracy is better than anarchy, Neg might point out the harm that
democracy makes people pay taxes. (The obvious response Aff would say is that we get more
benefits from paying taxes than the comparatively small harm of losing income.)

Impact – explains the importance of the warranted claim. Example: It’s important that cheese is
good, because its nutrients, especially calcium, contribute to a healthy body.

Impact Turn -Taking an impact and proving that it is good and its opposite is bad. An impact turn to nuclear proliferation
would argue that the acquisition of nuclear weapons promotes stability and world peace.

Last edited by LanLe on Tue Oct 28, 2008 10:00 pm; edited 8 times in total
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Registration date : 2008-07-30

PostSubject: Re: General Debate Dictionary   Tue Oct 28, 2008 9:21 pm


Internal Link Turn: Many debate impacts rely upon a series of internal link claims - one thing causes another,
then another, etc., until something really bad happens. In addition to turning the link or the impact of the other teams
argument, it is also possible to turn one of the relationships in the link chain, thus providing the terminal impact is actually a
reason to vote for oneself instead of one's opponent. Most often, affirmatives speaking about turning the link (link turn), internal
link, or impact (impact turn ) of a disadvantage. Negatives often speak of turning the solvency (internal link) of an advantage, or
turning its impact. For example, imagine a disadvantage which says the plan somehow results in a loss of jobs (presumptively a
bad thing), thus hurting the economy.
The affirmative could link turn by saying the plan actually increases jobs.
The affirmative could impact turn by saying that it's a good idea to hurt the economy, perhaps to weaken our ability to wage war.
The affirmative could also turn the internal link by saying that losing jobs would actually save the economy. For example,
they might say that unemployment keeps wages low, but overemployment results in wage inflation, which causes general
inflation (a rise in the cost of goods/services), which will cause the Federal Reserve Board to increase interest rates, leading
to a full blown recession. Only by decreasing employment can we avoid much greater economic disruption, so the plan solves the impact.

Intersectionality- is the viewpoint that different kinds of oppression (class, race, etc.) do not operate independently. As a
criticism, intersectionality argues that attempting to remove one kind of oppression can often make problems worse. For
example, one could argue that women are marginalized in Western society and that gender categories must be erased in order
to achieve a better society. An intersectionalist might rebut this by saying that occupying the category “woman” can give a
person strategic tools that they use to fight against class-based or racial oppression, and that instead a more holistic approach is necessary.

Non-unique – a harm or benefit that can happen on either side and is therefore a wash.
Wash – nullification of harms/benefits, as when they’re equal on both sides, so they cancel out.
(Kind of like in a math equation.)

Non-resolutional – when a point does not pertain to the resolution. It
can also mean something that goes beyond the duty or burden one side has to prove (e.g. a
supererogatory action).

Solvency- The connection between a proposal and its effectiveness. If the plan will eliminate the harm, than it solves.

Speed Kritik -The speed kritik is a criticism of speakly quickly in debate rounds. The kritik argues that "speed reading"
is bad because people don’t understand the evidence and have to review it all. According to the argument, "since debate
is an auditory activity, speaking quickly is not fair". The speed kritik is not all that common on the national High School or
College circuit, but can be utilized as an attempt to slow your opponent down. The speed kritik is generally answered by arguing
speed is good because it allows deeper knowledge, is more educational etc.

Standards - Ways to interpret topicality (or other major issues). Reasonability, common person, contextuality,
and field context are all standards for evaluating topicality.

Status of the Counterplan - This refers to what a negative team must do to kick a counterplan. When the affirmative asks the negative
"what the status of the counterplan" is, they usually expect an answer of conditional, dispositional, or unconditional.

Stock Issues -The five major stock issues are inherency, solvency, harm, significance, and topicality. A stock-issues paradigm goes
through each of these components and if the affirmative loses any of the five, the negative wins the round.

Take-Out -An answer or respons to a position that simply “disable” or “refute” rather than flip or turn. A series of case
take-outs to accidental war, for example, would argue that the risk of accidents is low and that the impact would not be devastating.

Time Frame -The duration (short or long term) of time it takes for a link or a impact to occur. Yes, an accidental nuclear
war may be an awful impact, but if the timeframe for such an event is too distant, the size of the impact will be overwhelmed
by other events in the short term.

Supererogatory – superfluous, unnecessary, or otherwise performed or observed beyond the
required or expected degree (

Grouping – The debater is addressing several points at once by responding to the underlying idea behind them. This is most common
in the 1AR, when there’s only 4 minutes for Aff to cover everything.

Tagline – the one-sentence summary of a contention or subpoint. For example: Community
standards have a “chilling effect” on teachers which is detrimental to the education of high
school students

Unconditional - An argument is considered unconditional if a team cannot (or commits not) to cease advocating it,
regardless of what conditions may arise.The affirmative is generally expected to defend their plan unconditionally
(the phrase affirmative conditionality is generally understood to be disruptive to debate). The negative might choose to
defend a counterplan or kritik alternative unconditionally to avoid a theory argument related to the two most common other
statuses: conditionality and dispositionality.

Unique -The argument that an impact or link is inextricably and exclusively tied to the plan and not the status quo.
The uniqueness of a disadvantage proves that the impact will not take place unless the affirmative is adopted. If a
team “controls uniqueness,” they have established the current status of a given impact.

Voting issue, voter, or crystallization point – why you win the round. It can be an impacted drop
extended across the flow in both rebuttals; it can be anything, as long as the debater makes an
argument and calls it a voting issue/voter/point of crystallization. Example: I win this round
because [argument]. Usually, crystallization is done during the last 2 minutes of the 2NR and
2AR, or for the entire 2AR.

Value or value premise – the overall standard by which the round should be weighed. It should
be something inherently good, like Societal Welfare, Justice, Individual Welfare, Democracy,
Quality of Life, Quality of the Future, etc. “Free Speech” isn’t so great as a value because it can
be bad, like in wartime (for more info, go look up the Supreme Court cases Shenck v. U.S. and
Abrams v. U.S.).

Warrant – The substance, content, or reasoning behind a claim.
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