Thursday, December 6, 2012

Dictionary of debate elitist code words

Mark Steyn, the Joseph Addison of his day, has written extensively about racial code words, but no one has broached the topic of debate elitist code words.  Here are some of the many terms and phrases debaters subtly employ to make themselves sound more knowledgable/hip.  This is not a complete list; suggestions are welcome and may be added.

Brink – an extra subpoint for those unsatisfied with the complexity of 4-point disadvantages.

Calculus – synonymous with “comparison” or “weighing”.  Debaters who stink at math love this one, because they can warp to an alternate universe in which they're modern-day Euclids.

Cross-apply – synonymous with “again”.  An excellent non-response to damning arguments that sounds responsive but most often isn’t.

Dehumanization – synonymous with "bullying".  Whenever the affirmative team kills some people or takes away their benefits, the negative speaker will assert that they dehumanize the victims of their plan.

Double-bind  synonymous with "It's a trap!"  Either their bomb works and kills off hundreds of people or it fails and they kill us.  These arguments often fall under the "false dichotomy" fallacy.

Fill-in-the-blank-spec – synonymous with “insolvent”.  Flinging this text speak around will confound parent judges, but pick up college alums, who like to think they’re smarter for knowing what a “spec” is.

Framework – roughly stands for “this is the only argument that matters”.

Perm – Slang for permutation.  Synonymous with "not mutually exclusive".  More text speak that will win college judges over and alienate those judges who don’t belong to a counter-plan club.

Press – synonymous with “argument” or “contention”.  As applied to stock issues, especially topicality. 

Roadmap – synonymous with “outline” or “direction”.  Debaters often give one, but rarely adhere to it.

Shell – again, synonymous with “outline” or “strategy”, I think.  It has no strict definition that I’ve yet heard explained, but it sounds cool, so people drop it in random places.

Turn – synonymous with "The opposite is true."  Actually one of the better arguments one can make in team policy, hence the disposition of so many debaters to misuse it blatantly.

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