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Debating abc: Terms

December 17, 2012

Debating is essentially a very simple activity – about arguing the rights and wrongs of policies and ideas. However, like many other activities, it has developed over time its own specialist vocabulary for otherwise simple concepts. This is a comprehensive glossary of the most commonly used debating terms to help clarify what we do.

Analysis
The logical reasoning behind an argument.
Barrack
To offer points of information too quickly in succession and hence being disruptive.
Bin
(Being in) a low-ranked room.
Break
(To reach) the knockout rounds of a competition as a speaker or as a judge.
Break Room
Any room in the final preliminary round from which teams could potentially break.
British Parliamentary
The format of the debating competitions we participate in. Now recognised the international standard.
Burden
The strategic responsibility on a team or side in a debate
Case File
A collection of written material designed to prepare cases for debates.
Chair Judge
The person who controls a debate and manages the adjudication and feedback to teams afterwards.
Chief Adjudicator
The person responsible for ranking judges and setting the motions in the competition. Also known as the CA.
Closed Motion
A motion which involves a clear policy or statement for the debate.
Closed Round
A round where the results of the adjudication is kept secret from teams.
Closing Government
The second team on the government side. Responsible for extending the government case and summating the debate in favour of the government.
Closing Opposition
The second team on the opposition side. Responsible for extending the opposition case and summating the debate in favour of the opposition.
Composite Team
A team including two speakers not from the same university.
Convenor
The person responsible for organising a debating competition.
Counterprop(osal)
An alternative policy to that of the definition advocated by the opposition.
Crash
Accommodation for speakers and judges at a competition.
Definition
The policy or interpretation of the motion created by the opening government team in the debate.
Draw
The announcement of team positions, judges and the motion before a debate.
EFL
English as a Foreign Language. A category for speakers at Worlds.
ESL
English as a Second Language. A category for speakers at Worlds, Euros and some IVs or Opens.
Euros
The European Universities Debating Championship (EUDC). Held annually during the summer.
Extension
The new material brought by teams in the closing half of the debate.
Government
The side in favour of the motion. Also known as the proposition.
IONA
Islands of the North Atlantic – used to refer collectively to the UK and Ireland.
IR
International Relations – the interactions between international actors.
IV
A competition involving only teams from universities. Otherwise known as an intervarsity competition.
Knife
When a closing team implicitly or explicitly contradicts the opening team on the same side.
Motion
The statement of the debate.
Open
A competition which allows composite teams along with university teams.
Open Motion
A motion which does not involve a clear policy or statement for the debate and is left to opening government to interpret.
Open Round
A round where the results of the adjudication is announced to teams after the debate.
Opening Government
The first team on the government side. Responsible for defining the motion, presenting arguments in favour of the motion and rebutting opening opposition.
Opening Opposition
The first team on the opposition side. Responsible for presenting arguments against the motion and rebutting opening government.
Opposition
The side against the motion.
Outround
Any knockout round after the break which only the top teams take part.
Point of Information
A short, quick point of rebuttal made during a speech by a speaker on the opposing side. Also known as a PoI.
Power Pair
When teams on similar team point totals are drawn to debate against each other.
Preliminary Round
A debating round where all the teams take part before the knockout outround.
Prep(aration) Time
The fifteen minutes between the draw and the start of the debate during which teams prepare for a debate.
Proposition
The side in favour of the motion. Also known as the government.
Protected Time
The first and last minute of a speech during which points of information cannot be offered.
Pull Up
To be put in a room with teams on higher team points that you.
Rebuttal
The explanation of why the arguments made by the other side is wrong.
Roll
When the wing judges overrule the chair judge in the adjudication.
Room
The physical location of a debate. Also used to describe the rank of the debate (e.g. top room, break room, bin room etc.)
Speaker Points
Points allocated to individual speakers based on their speech in the debate. Usually marked out of 100. Otherwise known as speaks.
Squirrel
An illegitimate and unreasonable attempt by opening government to restrict or shift a motion.
Straights
When teams have the number of team points equivalent to just getting seconds in all their debates. Can also be a reference point for success (e.g. “Plus one” means the equivalent on straights plus a win etc.).
Strike
When a judge is prevented from adjudicating a team due to a potential bias.
Summation
The concluding speech on each side, providing a biased summary of the debate.
Swing Team
A reserve team put into the competition to ensure a multiple of 4 teams or when a team is absent.
Tab
The final ranking of speakers and judges in a competition.
Team Points
Points allocated to teams based on their perfomance in a debate. Usually 1st 3, 2nd, 2, 3rd 1, 4th 0.
Wing Judge
A person who assists the chair judge in adjudicating the debate.
Worlds
The World Universities Debating Championship (WUDC). Held annually during the winter.

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