Intro to Parliamentary Terminology

Parliamentary debate is known for its varying terminology, adopted from several different formats. This article serves as an introduction to some of the debate jargon you might hear in a round.

Open Parliamentary debate is often considered a confusing format to adopt, largely because of its influence from a multitude of other debate formats. Furthermore, due to Parliamentary debate’s influence nationally, different debaters use terminology to explain their case.

Below is a chart that outlines the basic vocabulary necessary to excel in Parliamentary debate.

Advantage: An advantage is an argument that works in favor of your case. The term “advantage” is used for the proposition/affirmative/government team. Typically, a team has 2-3 advantages.

Constructive speech: Constructive speeches are all four of the first and second speeches.

Counterplan text: A counterplan text is the conversing plan provided by the opposition/negation team. A good counterplan text will be only possible on the negation side (conflicts directly with the affirmative plan).

Disadvantage: A disadvantage is an argument from the negation team. This argument, also known as a “disad," serves as a reason not to vote with the affirmative team.

Fallacy: A fallacy is a false idea or interpretation of an event.

Inherency: Inherency typically means that on balance, a specific policy has in the past or will continue to fail in the future.

Link: Links connect one aspect of your argument to another part of the argument, providing an explanation about their relationship.

Kritik: A kritik, often called a “K,” challenges the philosophy or ethics behind your opponent’s logic.

Mutual exclusivity: If two plans or ideas are mutually exclusive, they are unable to happen at the same time. In debate, one will typically note that a counterplan text is not mutually exclusive because it can also happen in the affirmative world.

Off-case: Off-case is a point in the flow when you critique the other team’s case, rather than just their arguments. For example, off-case refutations include topicality arguments and kritiks.

On-case: On-case is a point on the flow when you deal with advantages/disadvantages directly.

PIC: A PIC is a plan-inclusive counterplan. It will modify the affirmative plan in some way that gives the negation team ground without completely negating the concept of the plan.

Plantext: The plantext is the affirmative plan to solve a given issue, which is typically used for a policy motion.

Role of the ballot: The role of the ballot is the burden for the round, or how the judge should evaluate the winner. For example, in a policy motion, the given burden and weighing mechanism is net benefits.

Solvency: Solvency is used to describe how effective a policy or idea solves an issue. If a concept does not solve the issue of the debate, then there is no solvency.

T-shell: A t-shell, also known as a topicality shell, notes that a particular side (typically the affirmative) is debating outside the realm of the debate. If the affirmative leaves the negation team no ground, then the negation can run a t-shell.

Warrant: A warrant is the way that you justify an advantage or refutation. Think of a warrant as reasoning.

For more information on the content discussed in this article, please visit our Parliamentary Resource page.

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Molly Hill is a senior in high school at Polytechnic School in Pasadena. She has been debating since 7th grade in the HSPDP, Public Forum, and World Schools formats. I’ve been debating and participati

Laila Ward is a senior at Polytechnic school. She debated from 9th through 12th grade, in the HSPDP, Policy, and World Schools formats. I have been debating since 9th grade. Freshman year, I was mento