Saturday 29 November 2014

Debating Glossary

Picture unrelated but adorable.
This is a list of terms commonly used in competitive debating based on my crowd-sourced Debating Glossary google doc, but edited to be more concise and less libelous. I am grateful to (almost) all of the contributors.

I suggest using CTRL+F to find particular terms as the list is fairly long.

Please comment below with any additions, requests for clarification, etc.

Term Definition
Ad hominem Arguments that attack the character of a person, not their arguments. Considered very bad form in competitive debating. 
Adjudication team A team of senior judges who set the motions for a competition and decide who judges which debate. (Also called 'CA Team' or "Adjudication Team")
Analysis Explaining why a thing you say is true. See previous post for more details.
Analysis motion/debate A motion/debate about proving a statement is true/false e.g. “This house believes violence is never the answer” is about the truth of that statement, not proposing that a particular action (e.g. “going to war”) is good.
Announce Room The room, generally a large lecture theatre, in which the tab rolls and the CA team and Convening team announce things to the competition.
Assertion When you make a statement but provide no analysis as to why it is true.
Backtab, To; Backtabbing; Backtabber A process by which a speaker, or speakers, attempt(s) to gather information from teams and judges on which positions they were awarded in previous rounds. Often used to construct an unofficial complete picture of the tab, by way of divining one's position in relation to other teams so as to better estimate the break point of a competition. Also useful for working out what teams you're likely to come up against and what part of the tab you're in. (Eg. Is +1 going to be enough to put you in the top room?) (See also: Tab).
Balance of harms A comparison between the harms and/or benefits that have been proven by each side of the debate. E.g. "Opp proved that this would lead to a loss of habitat for lesser-spotted-tree-frogs, but we proved that not doing it would lead to the extinction of humankind, so on a balance of harms, we win."
Ballots Sheets of paper on which the result of a debate is written. Completed ballots must contain the results of all teams from 1st to 4th, and speaker points. They are sometimes different colours in each round to prevent confusion
Believes motion A motion beginning "This house believes." Generally means more emphasis on proving a statement to be true and less on mechanistic issues about the implementation of the motion in the real world. (See also “Analysis motion")
Bin Room A derogatory term denoting a low ranked room with teams on a low number of team points.
Bottom Half The third and fourth teams to make their speeches in a round. (2nd Opp and 2nd Prop). Contrast with the top half.
The break is a threshold, above which teams will pass into the outrounds – semi-finals, finals and so forth – of a tournament.

The top teams on tab will pass this threshold (and so ‘break’, as the term is also used as a verb) with the exact number depending on how many outrounds are being held. Four teams can break to a final, eight if there are semifinals, sixteen if there are quarter-finals etc. Sometimes described in terms of the performance required, relative to taking 2nd place in each round – hence at one tournament the break might be on +1, while at another ‘evens’ (all seconds or equivalent) and speaks – where not all teams on evens can break, so the tie is resolved by comparing the speaker scores of the teams. This depends on the number of teams and outrounds at a given tournament, as well as the specific results achieved, and may be much speculated about by hopeful teams, but does not itself decide the criteria for breaking – rather it is an attempt to work out what will be needed to be one of the top however many teams.

Some tournaments have additional breaks such as ESL, EFL and novice categories. These work the same as the open break, but count only those teams where both speakers fit the relevant criteria.

The break announcement refers to the announcement of which teams have made it past this threshold and will procede to the outrounds and takes place after the final inround has been judged and tabulated.
Break Room A room where it is possible for at least one of the teams within it to "break" to the knock out stages of the competition. Also sometimes known as a 'live' room (in contrast to a 'dead' room, from which no team can break).
British Parliamentary (BP) A format of debating based on the House of Commons in the UK parliament. Involves 4 speakers on each side with predefined roles and titles such as the Prime Minister, Whip Speech etc. The dominant format of debating on the European circuit and key international competitions, but far from ubiquitous especially in America and Australia, amongst others. Also known as "Worlds Style" or "WUDC."

Bubble Room
See Break Room
Burdens Claims that a team is required to prove. 
CA Chief Adjudicator. Sets the motions, organises the judging pool and resolves any judging disputes. Generally a very experienced debater and judge selected by the host institution. 
Call, the The final positions that the judges decide each team deserves. E.g. OG 1st, OO 3rd, CG 4th, CO 2nd, etc. Delivered by the chair judge at the start of feedback.
Cap, The Set by competition organisers. The maximum number of teams that the hosting institution can accomodate.
Case File Information you carry with you to debates to assist in preparing cases. see also, "matter file"
The facebook group "The communist case file" takes its name from this, as it is a group resource for sharing useful information. 
Chair (Judge) The chairperson of the adjudication panel. Their responsibilities include to call on speakers to begin their speeches, maintain order, ensure that the round is timed, run the discussion between the judges after the time is over, fill in the ballot, announce the results and provide feedback.
My article on how to chair. 
Chief Adjudicator (CA) Sets motions for a tournament and resolves any judging disputes. May be assisted by deputies (DCAs).
Circuit, the, The loose community of individuals who participate in competitive debating and the events they attend. Example: "I've heard good things about her judging on the circuit. "
Clash, clash with someone, to clash out To register that you do not wish to judge/be judged by someone.

Most competitions will do their best to ensure that judging of rounds is as fair as possible and thus avoid ‘clash’ where a judge would not be considered impartial when judging a certain speaker or teams.
 Reasons for clash can include (but are not limited to): having attended the same institution, having spoken together, being related, being close friends, having had a personal dispute and/or having been romantically involved in the past. A general standard to work by is if someone could reasonably complain you weren’t a neutral judge.
Generally, clash is done for reasons of accountability and due diligence rather than out of genuine worry that judging will be biased.
The extent to which it is taken seriously will vary with the size of a competition, the larger the competition the easier it is to adjust judging arrangements to take account of clashes, while at smaller ones it can become difficult
Clash, “The Clash,”
(In a debate)
Extent to which arguments from different teams contradict and engage with each other. In a good debate, arguments should clash directly with those of the other side, if they give an entirely unconnected argument that’s not clash.
Closed Round/Closed Adjudication Generally the last one or two of the in-rounds, this refers to rounds in which judges are not to reveal the results, and the reasons for them, until after the break has been announced. Teams wishing for feedback should find their judges after the break announcement.
Comparative Comparison between the different situations offered by the sides of the debate. E.g. 'Prop have said that people being pressured into making decisions is bad, but this analysis is not comparative. In fact, people will be placed under greater pressure if their motion is enacted.' It is generally good for your analysis to be comparative.
Concession, Tactical concession, When a team accepts that something another team has said is true. Can be used to move the debate onto more useful territory. E.g. We concede there will be short term harms to this but think the long term benefits will outweigh them. We concede democracy is a contingent good, but believe in this case it is beneficial.
Contingent A thing dependent on another thing. E.g. 'the point about Tunisia is contingent on our acceptance this will destabilise the region.' If you can show that this will not destabilise the region, none of their points about the effects this will have in Tunisia matter.
Contingent good Something which is not good in itself, but good because it causes some other good thing to happen. (E.g. We see democracy as a contingent good that leads towards the establishment of freedom, human rights and other good things). Also known as an instrumental good, derivative good, means to an end.
Convenor The person charged with running the practicalities of the tournament (booking rooms, selecting a CA, organising crash, etc.). Normally a member of the hosting institution. Theoretically, in charge of absolutely everything, hopefully has assistants. Deserves respect and compassion.
Council (Worlds/Euros/etc.) Council are responsible for making decisions regarding Worlds or Euros (depending on which council it is) including hosts, eligibility, size of the break.
Counterprop When the opposition bench in a debate decides to not merely argue that the Proposition's idea is a bad one, but that they have a better idea which should be implemented, should be mutually exclusive with the prop, and as a general rule expand rather than narrow the clash in the debate.
If a counterprop is to be attempted this should be made clear by the first speaker of first opposition, as attempts to change the line later on are unfair on earlier teams.
Crash Accomodation provided by the host institution for debaters during a (typically weekend-long) competition.
Cut To be removed from the tab meaning that one can no longer take part in the competition.
Danger Reg An attempt to counter the issue of debaters arriving late and the tournament being delayed, which is self perpetuating as participants come to expect events to start late. By precommitting to some sort of penalty for the person in charge if they delay the start due to late teams. E.g. making a monetary donation to a political group one dislikes.
Dead room A room in which none of the teams have the possibility of breaking. It is worth noting that rooms which are dead for some teams may be live for others (e.g. ESL teams) teams are expected to continue to debate to the best of their ability as a result.
Definition, the The propositions interpretation of the words in the motion, delivered at the start of the first speech as part of the model. It should aim to resolve any ambiguities in the wording of motion and clarify for all teams exactly what the mechanism refers to and more broadly what it is that the proposition are trying to prove.
Deputy Chief Adjudicator (DCA) Assists the chief adjudicator with setting motions and organising judging.
Deputy Leader of Opposition The second speaker on the opposition bench (and therefore of the First/Opening Opposition team).
Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) The second speaker on the proposition bench (and therefore of the First Proposition/Opening Government team).
Discourse People talking to each other about political or social issues, or the manner in which they talk about them.
Draw, The Room and judging allocations for a round. See also "Rolling (the tab)"
Dual-Institution Certain universities, for different historical reasons, have more than one debating society, that compete at all competitions separately.
EFL The English as a Foreign Language category. .The eligible speakers must have not received education in the English language for more than 6 months and not lived in an English-speaking country for more than 18 months. WUDC Guidelines
Engagement The extent to which the case or particular arguments made by a team engage with the arguments or framework for the debate established by the other teams. see, "Clash"
Equity (General) The bare minimum standard of conduct that all debaters should adhere to. Includes, but is not limited to, avoiding being insensitive, offensive, aggressive or unpleasant to other participants, and not using terms or arguments that are offensive to identity groups.
Equity Officer Person responsible for enforcing an equity policy, adjudicating disputes, etc.
Equity Policy The set of rules and regulations that competition participants must adhere to in order to ensure that no participants face participation barriers or are discriminated against on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity, linguistic ability, orientation etc. May also prohibit general rudeness or aggression.
Equity Violation A violation of the championship's equity policy
Equity Complaint A complaint submitted by a speaker or judge against another speaker, judge or organiser for an equity policy violation
ESL The English as a Second Language category. The eligible speakers must have received less than 5 years of education in the English language and not lived in an English-speaking country for more than 2.5 years. WUDC Guidelines 
(English Speaking Union) ESU A charity that works to promote debating and free speech.
European Universities Debating Championships (EUDC) Also known as 'Euros'. The annual competition open to all European institutions. Lasts roughly a week instead of a weekend and has many more rooms, rounds and teams than a standard IV, as well as a much higher budget and associated accomodation and socials standard. Happens every summer in a different city chosen the year before. One of the most prestigous tournaments to win as well as a prestigous tournament to host for an institution.
Extension The fifth and sixth speeches in a BP debate (the first one from the 2nd Prop team and 2nd Opp team). The extension speech is expected to bring some new angle or aspect to the debate and have at least one materially different point than the speeches before it. Also refers to the main argument that the extension speaker made.
Externalities A (market) externality is something which the market does not incorporate into its valuations but which is significant in some way. E.g. environmental damage is a negative externality.
Feedback The information that a judge, normally the chair judge, will provide teams with after the debate. This always extends to justifying the call, but may also consist of advice to improve future performance.
First Opp The first half of the opposition bench. This refers to the team of two debaters, not the first opposition speaker personally.
First Prop The first half of the proposition bench. This refers to the team of two debaters, not the first proposition speaker personally.
First principles A set of axioms that, in theory, are so obvious that nobody in the round would sensibly dispute them.
First Person motion A motion that is set from the point of view of a specific individual who is the actor in the motion.
Flow An American system for notarising, structuring and judging debates where the interrelation between particular points is carefully tracked.
Folding In outrounds: the teams for outrounds are selected by putting the team at the top of the break in the same outround as the team at the bottom of the break and the two teams in the middle (e.g. the 1st, 16th, 8th and 9th breaking teams in a competition breaking to quarter finals). This is to to ensure rough equality of overall quality of each outround and that e.g. two of the top four teams on the tab don't knock each other out of the competition in the first outround as would happen if you power-paired, when other things being equal you might assume the top four teams on tab would likely be the four teams in the final - folding the outrounds ensures this assumption is at least possible.
Fresher Debater in their first year at University. May or may not be a Novice.
Gavel Wooden hammer used to make noise and in courtrooms or debates, and occasionally referred to as "the big hammer" and used to smash up defective dictaphones in order to destroy evidence that may be used to impeach President Bartlet.
Government Combined term for the teams speaking in favour of a motion, first and second proposition/opening and closing governmnet. (Also the institution which runs a state.)
Hack, Old hack, Someone who has been on the debating circuit a long time. "Dino" is also used.
Human rights Rights that people gain merely by being people and do not have to further earn (eg. the right to a fair trial). Many debates ultimately revolve around arguing about which rights are human rights, where human rights come from and what (if anything) can cause a person to lose them.
ICC International criminal court, or International Cricket Council
IDEA International Debate Education Association.
Implicit Obvious from context, implied rather than stated outright. For example, "Look, my partner might not have stated that he knew Turkey was a NATO member, but it was implicit in his analysis about our obligations to help them." Often used in this manner to rescue a case in peril, and often the cause of heated disagreements on panels as members disagree as to whether an argument really was implicit, or whether they're just saying that to make their mates win.
Info-dump Run arguments which largely amount to stating many facts (or sometimes 'facts'), without demonstrating why they help your side win the debate. Generally a bad idea, or at least this phrase is generally a criticism. Also known as a "matter-dump."
Info-slide A slide containing information relevant to the upcoming round. Often accompanied by sighs from the debaters who don't feel like writing down a page of text in addition to prepping arguments. The probability of an info slide occuring increases proportionately with the number of the CA team doing obscure masters degrees. Shengwu's blog advises that info slides should be used when only one team who knows a somewhat obscure but particularly pertinent fact would have an unfair advantage over teams that don't know it; with the Mein Kampf round at Galway EUDC being a case in point.
In-round A round before the break, in which all teams at the tournament compete
Institution The educational body that an individual represents: normally a university or college, but occasionally a shadowy and suspicious body like a law school.
Internalise Understand or have experienced to such a point that it becomes subconscious. E.g. "We have all internalised a set of moral norms based on our upbringing and social context."
Intuition Something that is apprehend directly, without recourse to reasoning processes such as deduction or induction. E.g. "We all have a moral intuition that human suffering ought to be avoided." Note, playing the "intuition card" may often lead to a "meta-debate."
IONA Literally meaning the “Islands of the North Atlantic,” this refers to the United Kingdom and Ireland debating circuit and community. It has been chosen for official purposes because other names for the area are considered to be controversial.
IR International Relations. The manner in which countries of the world deal with each other and issues which cross borders."IR Debates" are a common subset of debates.
Ironman When one speaker completes both speeches in a team. Ironmanning sometimes happens when your partner is incapacitated after a social (see yakka). Swing teams that are used to fill up number may often ironman to reduce teh number of people needed (see Swing team)
IV An InterVarsity competition. Literally a competition held between different universities as opposed to any other institutions such as schools debating competitions.
Judging Panel A panel, consisting of one chair judge and at least one wing judge, that adjudicates the debate.
Judging Pool All the judges at a competition that are available to the CA for allocation. A jusdging pool may be referred to as "deep" when it contains a high level of experience, and/or large when it contains many people.  
Knifing When a speaker contradicts another speaker or team on their side of the table. It should normally be avoided, but at times is necessary if the previous team has said something unsupportable. How to judge knifing is a subject of contention. (For a good analysis see:
Leader of the opposition The first speaker of the Opening Opposition team.
Leading POI When a POI is used to make a speaker concede something for tactical reasons. E.g. Do you accept the west should support democracy?
Legitimate An act that is legally or morally acceptable. Has particular meaning in political philosphy e.g. We believe dictatorships are illegitimate.
Live room A room from which it is possible to reach the break. At the beginning of Round 1, all rooms are live. Contrast break rooms, which only exist in the final in-round. May be used across multiple breaks e.g. "I think my room was ESL live" (people could break to the ESL break but not the main break from it). The opposite is a dead room, from which noone can reach the break
Long diagonal The first proposition and second opposition teams. So called because they are diagonally facing each other and speak a long time apart (as opposed to the short diagonal of first opp and second prop who speak immediately after one another). Typically used in relation to judging and results and in reference to who came 1st and 2nd Eg. "We felt the result was the long diagonal, with First Prop taking the win and Second Opp the 2nd place".
Long Prep When debaters are informed of a motion hours or days before they will debate. Contrast to (the more common) 'short prep' were debaters are told the motion 15 minutes or a similar time before speaking.
Low impact A point is deemed 'low impact' if the debate has been conceived largely in practical terms and in the view of the judges the practical effect of the point in question is very limited (the harm or benefit is limited either to a small number of cases, or to a negligible degree compared with the status quo). Propping a "low-impact" mechanism is generally considered bad form. 
Mace Large heavy metal club traditionally symbolising the authority of the speaker in a parliamentary system. Also a series of competitions run by the ESU.
Mandate The government or comparable actor is said to have a 'mandate' for a policy proposal by virtue of making it a point of issue in their electoral campaign and/or having broad public support or consent for an action.
Also occasionally used to referred to 1st Proposition's ability to set the terms of a debate.  
Manner What some people call 'style' for some reason, probably to do with the fact 'manner' seems like it might be broader and include all sorts of strange things which might influence persuasiveness like gestures.
Masking Effect When the presence of something that is not in itself bad has a negative effect by making the presence or effects of a bad thing less visible/obvious. E.g., Legalising S&M could provide a masking effect for domestic violence, international adoption provides a masking effect for child smuggling.
Matter Information relevant to debating.
Matter File A file containing information relevant to debating, used by teams to assist them in preparing a case. See also, "Case file."
Matter Prep Learning information specifically for the purposes of using it in debates.
Mechanism The way in which the proposition intends to implement any policy they are arguing for. Depending on the motion it may involve a discussion of various organisations and actors involved, what they would do, why they would do it and how you intend to ensure they will do it competently. For example in the debate "This House would bring back the death penalty" the proposition would likely explain which crimes would be eligible for the death penalty and possibly other details.
Meching-Out-the-Debate When the mechanism offered by the proposition is oddly convoluted and appears to have been chosen specifically to remove from the clash as much of the possible opposition line as possible. This is a form of squirreling but is done by meching- rather than defining the debate unfairly. There is obviously a fine line between a good, tight prop mechanism and one which is so tight it makes the debate impossible and as such the mechanism would have to be absurdly convoluted for the government to get called on this.
Member of government The first speaker of the Closing Government team.
Member of opposition The first speaker of the Closing Opposition team.
Meta-debate In the debate - When a team raises an issue about another teams case wherein they challenge the reasonableness of a definition, the legitimacy of a point being made given the constraints of debating or accuse another team of cheating they will said to be 'meta-debating'. Meta-debating is usually frowned upon but is sometimes advisable e.g. when another team is cheating and you wish to highlight this fact for the judges. Can also refer to informal discussions between debaters e.g. "Alice and Bob are having meta-debate chat."
Model The definition and the mechanism are referred to collectively as "the model".
Moral hazard A piece of economic jargon, generally indicating that the proposal has the effect of incentivising financial irresponsibility.
Addition (22/11/2012): Describes the effect that some actors (e.g. in the financial sector) are more willing to take risks or generally act irresponsible, because the liabilities resulting from their actions are way less than the potential gain or even non-existent (e.g. when banks will be bailed out of their debt anyway by governments). 
NAMDA The 'Northern and Midlands Debating Alliance'. A group of university debating societies in the north and midlands of England which cooperate in running an annual novice tournament and mutually attending IVs.
Narrative Means a story. Often used by debaters when they don't have other arguments. Hence "changing the narrative" about a particular issue means "people will talk about it in a different way", which is usually difficult to prove. People do often perceive events through the prism of a particular narrative with heroes, villains, simplistic causes etc. so this species of analysis can be good - which is not to say that spurious talk about narratives does not abound in debating. Well documented to be more important than food.
Narrow (Prop/debate) When a proposition's definition of the debate is felt to restrict it to a limited set of arguments it is accused of being 'narrow'. Assuming it has not done so by means e.g. of unreasonable time or place setting or outright squirreling it isn't obviously what the merits of pointing this out are for an opp- team as "it seems too narrow" doesn't constitute grounds upon which to reject a definition. It may however elicit sympathy from judges who also don't want to hear eight speeches on a very limited set of issues.
Non-comparative When two antithetical claims are made by opposing sides in the debate which the constraints of the debating format do not allow a useful means of adjudicating between them, they will sometimes be labelled as 'non-comparative' (esp. by summation speakers) as a reason for the judges to ignore that issue. Another way of saying a particular dispute in a debate round is a wash between the two teams as there is no way to decide which team's position is superior without relying e.g. on empirical facts or other things which don't exist in debateland.
Normative Pertaining to rules (norms) or standards; a claim is normative if it relates implicitly or explicitly to a set of evaluative standards or obligations e.g. "you should do such-and-such" "so-and-so isn't an acceptable thing to do". Normative standards can be bound to specific contexts e.g. "X behaviour violates the norms of international diplomacy".
Normalise The process by which a policy, group of people etc achieves widespread acceptance. E.g. "We think that, whilst some backlash may initially occur, gay-marriage will quickly become normalised."
Novice An inexperienced debater. Exact definitions vary and include most commonly: a speaker who has never debated at a university competition; a speaker who has been debating competitively for less than a year and anything in between; a speaker who has never 'broken'; and many more.
Open A competition where teams are allowed to consist of speakers from different institutions, or non-students.
Opening (Government/Opposition) The opening team is the team speaking in the first half of the debate.
Open Motions A designated motion, normally intentionally vaguely worded, in which first Prop get to decide what the debate will be about, essentially providing the actual motion at the start of the PM speech as well as a model. Some competitions, most notably the Durham Open, exist entirely of such motions.
Open Round/Open Adjudication Generally the first few inrounds, in which the judges' call and reasoning, as well as any speaker feedback, is given to all teams as soon as the judging discussion is complete. By contrast see 'Closed Round'.
Opp Heavy (Motion/Debate) A debate on an unbalanced motion where there are more, better and more intuitive arguments on the opposition side than the proposition side. E.g. This House would allow murder
Opp Sweep When the two opposition teams take first and second in a debate
Opposition Combined term for first and second opposition/opening and closing opposition.
Opportunity cost. (Analogous rendering of Mankiw/Taylor:) If you have several choices the opportinity cost is that what must be given up in order to take another choice. It stands for the choices not taken or, in more general terms, the values/benefits sacrificed by deciding in one way or another.
Org Com The Organising Committee of a debating tournament. Varies in size depending on the competition from a team of over a dozen people organising Worlds or Euros to perhaps a pair organising a small national competition.
Otherize A term from social theory meaning to mark out or treat a group or a type of people as fundamentally "different" in some way by stressing some presumed essential feature of those people, by virtue of which they are different from the mainstream and therefore either outwith reasonable bounds of empathetic concern or unworthy of some sort of protective state intervention.
Out-round Rounds after the break / any round which isn't an inround; e.g. Quarter-Finals, Finals, Novice-Finals, ESL Semi-Finals etc. Unlike in-rounds where points are accumulated for a final tally, these are knock-out, normally meaning that only the best two teams progress to the next out-round. With the exception of the final, obviously. Unlike in-rounds teams are not assigned positions from 1st through 4th but are simply through or out, or the winners or not.
Overpropping When the first proposition team takes on more burdens than strictly required by the motion. Sometimes this can add well needed clarity to an otherwise nebulous motion, othertimes it can just put second proposition in a rather difficult position of being obliged to defend the indefensible through no fault of their own, or the motion.
Oxbridge A term to describe Oxford and Cambridge, the two biggest international competitions besides EUDC and WUDC on the circuit.
Panel See; Judging Panel.
Panelist A judge on a panel who is not the chair.
Parliamentary language Acceptable way of speaking in a debate. Generally defined negatively, E.g. swearing is not parliamentary language.
Patriarchy/Patriarchal A systemic bias in society towards men, be it in paying them more, promoting them higher, taking their views more seriously or any other form of discrimination that disadvantages women.
Political Capital Analogous to money, a theoretical term for the goodwill, owed favours, etc. a politician or political group has which are ‘spent’ on achieving certain goals. For example: “we would like to legalise gay marriage, but it would use up a lot of political capital for a very small effect and we would rather spend that capital on medical reform.”
Place-setting Setting the motion in a specific country or region. Most motions are set presuming they will take pace in teh country the debate is set, or comparable countries (see "Western Liberal Democracies"). Some competitions may have specific rules regarding where it is legitimate so place set a motion. (E.g. at the European Championships it is not acceptable to place set the motion exclusively in your own country.)
Some motions are by their nature place set in a particular country (e.g. This house as the Afghan Government....).
Place setting a motion in an unexpected location for the purposes of benefiting your side is bad form and seen as a form of squirreling, and punished appropriately.  
Point of Clarification (POC) A special kind of POI that should ONLY be used to inquire about the mechanism or definition.
They should NOT be used for anything else, and attempts to smuggle in POIs under the guise of points of clarification may result in the judges punishing you, and rightly so.
As first proposition it is generally a good idea to accept points of clarification to ensure the debate goes smoothly for everyone. 
Point of Information (POI) An interjection offered to the speaker by a member of the opposite team, signaled by standing up and making a noise of some sort.
The speaker is at liberty to refuse or accept the POI, and if accepted the interjecting speaker may used it to contribute information or ask a question. Can only be offered in unprotected time. And can only be offered by members of the opposing team
Nothing beyond the desire to make a POI should be conveyed by words spoken prior to being accepted by the speaker, as trying to get your point in without being taken by the speaker is considered an illegitimate used of their allocated time..
Point of Order (POO) An interjection made to the chair, raising an issue not related to the motion, but rather to the procedure or logistics of the debate. Note that Points of Order are not included in the official rules for competitions such as Euros or Worlds.
Power Pairing Where teams on the same team points debate in the same room together. The standard way of organising rounds at debating competitions.
Prep Time The time before a round in which you can prepare your speeches. Normally 15 minutes. 1st prop is generally given the room the round is taking place to prepare in, other teams find their own places, often in corridors.
Prime Minister The first speaker from the first team of the proposition/government. So called after the leader of the British parliament. Does not actually entail roleplaying as the head of your countries government.
Principles According to the principles/practicalities paradigm of dividing up content point which are not concerned with real world effects but are rather abstract (usually normative) arguments about concepts at issue in the debate.
Prop Heavy (Motion/Debate) Gives the proposition teams a higher chance of winning than the opposition teams regardless of their abilities. E.g. "This house believes murder is bad." Would probably be considered prop heavy.
Prop Sweep When the two proposition teams take the 1st and 2nd.
Proposition Either 'the government bench' or 'the motion' depending on the context.
Protected time Time, generally the first and last minute of each speech, in which points of information may not be offered.
Rebuttal Things you say explaing why the other side are wrong about the things they said
Reg fee, The Short for registration fee. An amount set by the Convenor to be spent on running the competition at 0 or positive profit. Usually includes expenses for judges, room rental and social. Some debating societies pay all or part of this fee. Judges don't normally pay registration fees.
Relevancy Why a thing, if true, is important to the debate
Rights A claim to a sort of freedom within a particular sphere of action. Rights may be absolute or may be restricted in various ways e.g. when they conflict with other rights. Some rights are presumed to be universal (e.g. “Human Rights”) others come as a consequence of being a member of a certain society or some other crieria. A distinction is sometimes made between 'negative rights' which oblige non-interference on the part of others, and 'positive rights' in which case they mandate action by the state or other actions to promote the ability of the rights-bearer to fulfill this right. Rights may be natural, in which case they are derived from pure reason or natural law or something prior to the state or they may be artificial (just standards we live by). Nominated rights have a profound legal significance in countries with written constitutions which, post-1789 tend to come with a list of rights attached which constrain the actions of the state). A safe general categorisation of rights (from Dworkin) is that they serve as 'trump cards' by which the individual can thwart the action of other individuals or the state whether they are acting in private or general (utilitarian) interest in a way contrary to the right-bearers protected sphere of self-interest. See for more information.
Rolling (a chair) The act of the chair judge in a room having their view on the result of the debate be overruled by their wing judges (see 'Wing' below).
Rolling (the tab) A powerpoint presentation, displayed before the motion is announced, that convey to teams the logistical information for the next round. Normally included is their position, room number and the names of their judges. Occurs immediately before the announcement of the motion.
Round Unit of debating, consisting of rolling the tab, prep time, a debate, and feedback.
Runners At Larger/better organised competitions they will often have people assigned to take ballots from rooms to the tab room to ensure things happen as fast as possible. Normally junior members of the host institution.
Schools Competitions between children below the legal age of maturity, used in contrast to universities.
Schoolies Schools debaters, or new university debaters with experience of schools debating
Scorch the earth, To When a top half team runs all the available material, leaving nothing for the extension. AKA Turf-burning
Schelling Fences Slippery slopes can sometimes be avoided by establishing a "Schelling fence" - a Schelling point that the various interest groups involved - or yourself across different values and times - make a credible precommitment to defend.[]
SDA (Southern Debate Association) The Southern debate association, which functions much like NAMDA and SSDC. Traditionally dominated by London institutions (UCL, KCL, Imperial and LSE), an increasingly large number of non-London southern institutions are members.
Self-actualise A term originating in Hegel. Means to achieve one's desires or to turn one's idealised conception of oneself into reality. Used more generally for “doing what you want to do.”
Shallow debate A debate in which very few arguments are made, or all arguments are relatively superficially made. Sometimes a result of a shallow motion, sometimes a result of the teams. Shallow debates often become top-half debates.
Shallow motion A motion that has very few arguments relevant to it, or where the points of clash are all quite superficial, and do not lend themselves to extended analysis.
Ships passing in the night When the arguments of opposing teams don't clash meaningfully.
Short Diagonal The 1st opposition team and the 2nd proposition team. Called ‘short’ as there isn’t long between their speeches. Often used to describe the result of a debate, e.g. “it was definitely a short diagonal but it took us a while to decide the ordering.” Contrast “long diagonal.”
Short Prep A speech you have only a short time to prepare for. Normally 15 minutes. Most university competitions are done in this format. Contrast “long prep.”
Slippery Slope The argument that by allowing one thing which may be positive we will be unable to prevent a further move towards more extreme things of the same type which may be negative. Eg. "If we legalise cannabis we will get all the benefits you've heard, but we will soon find ourselves forced to legalise cocaine and heroin too which will cause disaster." Often considered a poor argument, though potentially legitimate as long as it is actually demonstrated that the bad things will follow from implementing the policy. See 'Schelling fences'
Social Most competitions will include some sort of event in the evenings after the debates are completed, or between days on longer competitions. Generally a good opportunity to relax after a long day of debating and get to know people in a less formal context.
Social Construct A thing that does not actually exist, but everyone thinks and acts like it exists because everyone else thinks and acts like it exists.
Social contract The idea that a good society operates according to a set of reciprocal rules and duties that can be thought of as a contract between the parties making up that society. Philosophers sometimes use the idea of a contract to which all parties would have good reason to agree to think about whether a given set of rules is fair. Commonly misunderstood to suggest that everyone who remains a part of society has in fact consented to its rules. (For an influential discussion of the use of this concept in debating see here: for more in depth discussion.) 
Social Policy Debates concerned with issues of generalised domestic policy are said to be 'social policy debates' e.g. debates about what Western Liberal Democracies should do with regards to healthcare provision or developing nations should do about education would be social policy debates.
Speaker Points Also 'speaks'. Marks awarded to individual speeches in in-rounds. On a scale notionally out of 100, wth a 75 representing the average speech 75, and numbers below 50 being used for non-attendance or disciplinary purposes. Within a room the combined speaker points of the members of a team must not exceed those of teams they beat, although between teams on the tab speaker points count only when team points, based on team positions in rounds, are tied. Tournaments will release a 'speaker tab', listing in ranked order the speaker points achieved by all speakers in each room.
Split When the judging panel does not unanimously decide on the call, a vote is held. Such a decision is a "split decision," e.g. "On a 5:2 split decision, the win went to OG." The judges that vote against the majority team are, "the split" e.g. "It went to OG, Steve was the split" but also refers to the team that the minority of judges voted for, e.g. "It went 5:2 to OG and CG were the split." Can also be used as a verb, E.g. "I hear Steve split for CG."
Squirrel Defining a motion in a strange, unexpected or narrow way, such that it could not have been reasonably expected by the other teams and damages the debate.
SSDC Scottish Students Debating Council The representative body for institutions in Scotland plus Newcastle and Durham (for historical/geographical reasons). Runs a novice competitions, training days and sends delegates to Euros and worlds.
Status Quo The way things are at the present moment in time in the country a debate is set. Generally, a debate should be proposing a change from the status quo and it comprises the state of affairs that the proposition is contrasted with.
Straw man The act of attacking an argument your opponent did not make, or a caricatured weaker version of their argument. The term refers to the metaphor of fighting a scarecrow made of straw which the individual themselves set up.
Steel man The opposite of a straw man, interpreting your opponents argument in the best manner possible. Then defeating it, thus demonstrating your superiority.
Style The way in which someone speaks, his or her mannerisms, gestures, tone, confidence, etc. Generally used in contrast to ‘content.’
Summation / Summary speech The final speech from each side in British Parliamentary style debating is expected to summarise or wrap up the arguments from that side so far. It shouldn’t just be a list of things that have been said but pick up on the most important points in the case, reargue them well and highlight why they are important, a good summation can win debates.
Swing Team A team that is not eligible to break, but has instead been inserted into the competition to ensure that the total number of teams is divisible by four. Often taken from the judging pool.
Tab The results of debates, and the corresponding ranking of teams and speakers. Alternatively, the tabbing software.
Tabbing software A computer program typically designed specifically for the task of running a debating competition. Calculates results, allocates teams to rooms and assigns judges automatically if run properly by the tabmaster (see below).
Tabbie Web based tabbing software.
Tabmaster The person at a competition tasked with running the tabbing software, inputting information etc. They come up with the room and judge arrangements for each round based on the results of previous rounds. May or may not head a team of runners and result inputters.
This House A traditional feature of each motion, 'the house' is also in most debates up for the proposition to define as the relevant actor in the debate e.g. 'by this house we mean the British Government', 'Western Liberal Democracies', 'the average, reasonable person'.
Time setting Setting the motion in a specific time period, rather than present day as is normally assumed. Generally this should only be done when specified by the motion.
Timekeeper The person tasked with keeping track of the length of speeches and banging on the table, clapping or ringing a bell to signal when protected time begins and ends and the end of the speech. Normally one of the judges, in finals can be a dedicated person.
Top Half The 1st Proposition and 1st opposition teams in a debate. Called so as they form the ‘top half’ of the table the speakers are sitting at. Often used to describe the result of a debate, e.g. “it was definitely a top half debate but it took us a while to decide the ordering” would mean 1st prop and 1st opp got either 1st or 2nd. Contrast ‘bottom half.’
Tournaman A commonly used tabbing software (see 'Tabbing Software' above). Currently designed for PC.
Trolley Problem A thought experiment in ethics where one must choose whether or not to redirect a run away train cart from hitting 10 people to hitting 1. Comes in various forms. Often used to elicit intuitions for/against consequentialist ways of thinking or on whether to distinguish action and inaction.
Also the name of a blog by respected debater Shengwu Li, 
Utility Good things for people, variously defined. Generally understood as focusing on people's circumstances as opposed to their abstract rights. Different definitions might see utility in terms of people's happiness, or of seeing their preferences fulfilled - which do not always point to the same outcomes, as for instance if my false belief that my preferences have been fulfilled makes me happy, or my specific preferences are actually making me miserable.
Wash, A When the impact of an issue is equally felt on either side of the debate, so make no overall impact. "they said our argument would lead to capital flight, but so would theirs, so capital flight is a wash in this debate." See also 'Comparative'
Weak Prop A model that is not quite a squirrel, but is nevertheless boring and cowardly because it does not include the most interesting issues of the debate, either by virtue of being, "low impact" or "narrow."
Western Liberal Democracies A typical setting for most debates set in international tournaments, it is used by the first proposition during their definitions to denote that they are discussing the motion in the context of a typical western country, which would include the EU, the United States, Australia, Canada etc. This is often used when a motion would be absurd if set in every possible country.
Whip Speech The fourth speech from a side of the debate. Also called the summation speech.
Wing Judge Judges on a panel other than the chair. Called as such because they are normally sat on either side of the chair so act as their ‘wings’ in an odd flight analogy. They are generally less experienced than the chair judge is and do not provide the main feedback, but do offer individual feedback after the debate. Their role is to discuss and evaluate the teams or reach a consensus on the panel, or if necessary vote.
Womens A debating competition exclusively for women,often with the aim of promoting the inclusion of women in debating.
World Universities Debating Championships/ WUDC/ Worlds Every year in late December and early January the World Universities Debating Championships takes place. Hundreds of teams from universities around the world compete together, and it’s the largest debating event in the world. It is conducted entirely in British Parliamentary style, which is often called “Worlds Style” as a result. Normally includes separate breaks for English as a Second Language and English as a Foreign Language speakers. Also includes “master’s rounds” composed of old debaters, a public speaking competition and multiple socials showcasing the culture of the host country. Worlds Council takes place each year, primarily selecting bids, organising the next worlds and acts as the oversight body for international competitive debating.
Worlds (Style) Another term for British Parliamentary style debating, reflecting the fact it is used at the World Universities Debating Championships and is the most common format in international debating. Mainly used in America.
World Schools A competition between school children representing different countries, has its own unique format.
Yakka Beverage made of lemons, sugar and vodka. Originated in south africa, now traditionally associated with many debating competitions.

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