I have no idea what my kid is saying…
Speech and debate students have some pretty crazy terms that are common knowledge within the competition circuit, but they can be completely incomprehensible to outsiders and novices. Here are some of the more common ones and their translations:
Ballot: The scoring sheet that a judge fills out. It provides the judges feedback and reasons for the win or loss. Coach Martin will receive all ballots at the end of the tournament to tell you how you did.
Block: The planning of the movements during an interpretation (interp) piece. When students “block” their piece, they are working out their motions, stances, hand and eye movements.
Bracket: Used as a verb “to bracket,” it means that all of the teams will be debating against teams who are at the same level as them in the tournament, i.e. if you have won 3 rounds, you’ll be debating against someone else who has won 3 rounds. As a noun “the bracket,” is the level you are debating in, against people with the same win/loss record as you.
Break: When debaters make it out of preliminary rounds, they “break.” In other words, they made it to Quarter Finals or Octo-Finals at some tournaments.
Burden of Proof: This debate rule means that the affirmative (pro case) has the responsibility to establish the validity of the claim made by the resolution. In other words, the resolution is presumed invalid (con case wins) until the affirmative establishes otherwise.
Cross Examination: The questioning of your opponent and the answering of questions put to you by your opponent is called the cross examination.
Cross-entered: When you are judging, a student may say they are “cross-entered.” This means that the student is entered in TWO or more events at the same time. They are allowed to enter the room and write their name on the board to tell the judge they are cross-entered (abbreviated XE) and will return to your room as soon as they can. If a student asks to perform first because they are cross-entered, it is OK. Please allow them to perform and then leave when they are done.
Cut, Cutting: For the “interp” events, students often need to “cut” a piece from their published source. This means to take out a portion of lines / exchanges so that it will fit in the allowed time period. As a noun, “the cutting” is the final selection or excerpt that they perform during the tournament.
Disclosing: After a debate round is complete, the debaters will sometimes ask the judge to “disclose” their position / scoring of the round. A judge does NOT have to disclose, and we generally suggest that judges do NOT disclose at the Big Cat Classic.
Double Octo-finals (Double ocs): The elimination round where 32 competitors/teams remain. This round decides who will advance to Octo-finals, and it features 16 debates between debaters advancing in competition. Debaters will say a tournament “broke” to “double-ocs” if there are 32 competitors who advanced after the guaranteed, preliminary rounds.
Down: This is a term used debaters use when they lose a round. They will say “I downed that round.”
Dramatic Interpretation (DI) / Humorous Interpretation (HI): In these interp events, the student performs a memorized “cutting” from a published play, novel or short story (dramatic or humorous, depending on the category). The performer can select a monologue or they may adopt the roles of many different characters, changing their tone, manner and the position of their body to indicate a change in character. The time limit is 10 minutes.
Duet Acting (DUET): Duet Acting involves two people and two chairs. “Cuttings” must be made from scripts. Typically, they use only two characters, but occasionally the performers change roles. The pieces may be either dramatic or humorous, and the extensive use of movement and interaction between performers is permitted and expected.
Duo Interpretation (DUO): In this interp event, two students perform a scene from a published source. Students are NOT allowed costumes or props, and they may NOT touch or look at each other except in the introduction.
Extemporaneous Speaking (Extemp): In this speech event, the student draws three topics, selects one and has 30 minutes to prepare a 7-minute speech. The topics are based on current events in either international (IX) or domestic (DX) politics. During their 30 minutes of prep time, students are ONLY allowed to use research that the team has gathered and prepared IN ADVANCE. This is a big reason why it is important for speech and debate students to study current events. The team maintains a DropBox and goggle drive for the research they collect, which can be accessed and used during extemp prep.
Flow: This debate term describes a specific way debaters take notes during the opposition’s argument. Students will frequently sit in a round and “flow” for a teammate so that data can be used for future rounds if one of our teammates “hits” them in a later round. This is HUGELY helpful as it gives them a plan for attacking an opponent’s arguments. Debaters often will ask a judge “Are you a flow judge?” They want to know if you will be “flowing” their arguments while you listen. It is a way for them to understand the experience level of a judge.
Forensics: the art or study of argumentation and formal debate
Grace: For interp and speech events, there is a set time limit given. Contestants are allowed a “grace” period if they go past the time limit (30 seconds is most common). When judging, you are not to adjust their score if they exceed the time limit; the “tab room” adjusts for time overages.
Hit: To “hit” another team/person means to debate against then in a round.
Impromptu Speaking: In this speech event, the student will draw three topics and select one. These topics are VERY RANDOM and are not based on current events or research. The student has seven minutes to prepare, and the speech (think of it like an editorial) should be between 2 and 7 minutes in length.
Interp: Interp is short for “interpretation.” These are “acting” events at a tournament. They include: Dramatic Interpretation, Humorous Interpretation, Duo Interpretation, Duet Acting, Poetry and Prose. (See individual vocabulary entries for definitions of each event.)
Lay Judge: A lay judge is a judge that does not have any significant experience judging or participating in debates. Usually lay judges are parents and teachers.
Lincoln-Douglas Debate (LD): Lincoln-Douglas debate is a value debate based on persuasive/philosophical arguments. It is an individual event (i.e. one person against one person). The debaters will attempt to persuade the judge as to why their side wins and why their value is the best. They will use some evidence as well as logical analysis in their persuasion. There is a new topic every two months.
Novice: A first-year debater – not necessarily a freshman student – who is in their first year of competing in tournaments.
Octo-finals (Octo’s): The elimination round where 16 competitors/teams remain. This round, which decides who will advance to quarter-finals, features eight debate rounds between the debaters who won in double-octo-finals.
Original Oratory: In this speech event, students write and present their own original speech dealing with a social issue. The speech is limited to 10 minutes.
Outrounds: The final or elimination rounds of a tournament are called outrounds. These are the rounds that occur after a team/person “breaks.”
Paradigm: The method and preferences that a debate judge uses to evaluate the debate round are called paradigms. When you judge and a student asks your paradigm, they are asking if you have any preferences (speech speed, argument formation). PLEASE remember – debaters often speak very fast. (Think Auctioneer) If you are not used to it, make sure to tell them your paradigm: A standard speaking pace!
Pairings: Doing or getting “pairings” is when the list is displayed indicating which teams will “hit” each other in the next round.
Poetry (PO) / Prose (PR): In both PO and PR, the student will not have to memorize their material. Using voice inflections (Think Readers’ Theater), they read their piece or selection from a binder. The material they present must be from a published work. (i.e. not a TV show for example).
Preliminary Rounds (Prelims): These are the earliest rounds that every contestant in an event participates in. Results for these rounds will decide who moves on to outrounds or final rounds. Typically, tournaments have two prelim rounds in interp and speech events and four prelim rounds in debate.
Public Forum Debate (PF): Public Forum debate is a team event (i.e. two people against two people) that advocates or rejects a position posed by the resolution. There is new resolution every month, and they are based on current events and politics. The debaters will use statistics, cited sources and logic. A central tenet of PF is that the clash of ideas must be communicated in a manner persuasive to the “citizen judge” or member of an American jury.
Quarter-finals (Quarters): The elimination round where only 8 competitors remain. This round decides who will advance to semi-finals.
Semi-finals (Semis): The elimination round where only 4 competitors remain. This round decides who will advance to the championship or finals.
Single-elimination tournament: Much like in sports, the part of a debate tournament considered “single-elimination” is the portion where a single loss will eliminate the debater from the tournament. Outrounds (see double-ocs, octofinals, quarters, etc.) are single elimination because losing will eliminate a debater from the tournament.
Spread: A way of speaking very fast used in both Policy and Lincoln Douglas Debate. Spreading is used in order to read a large amount of evidence very quickly.
Tab, Tabbie, Tab room: The results from a tournament where everyone’s scores are tabulated (both team and individual rankings) is the “tab.” The “tabbie” is the person “doing tabs.” (i.e. entering all of the scores). The “tab room” is the locked room where all of the ballots are kept, and the tabbie(s) are sequestered for the entire tournament. Students are NOT allowed in the tab room.