DARTMOUTH DEBATE WORKSHOP
June 24 - July 15, 2009

Argument Labels (or Tags)

1. Write short, front loaded labels to arguments. If you can't say what you want to in 5 or 6 words, do the best you can and add an explanatory sentence after the label. Efforts at cute, funny labels usually fail and are almost always worthless. Each off-case argument should have a label; it will help the judge follow the argument.

2. Avoid classifiers like "we meet," "counter definition," "no link," and "not unique." If unavoidable, put them at the end of labels. For, example, if the negative argues T on "increase" does not mean "create," the affirmative saying "the plan adds to the existing ..." is clear and does not need "we meet." The affirmative saying “increase can mean create” is clearly a counter definition and does not need that term at the beginning of the label. Similarly, if the negative links politics to Democratic opposition, "Democrats support the plan" and "Democrats oppose on other issues" are clearly link and uniqueness arguments and don't need those additional words of “not link” and “not unique” at the beginning.

3. Avoid unnecessary substructure. State the concluding claim as the label and give the reasons. If the reasons are so distinct and important, make these separate arguments or wait for later speeches to delineate the different points. For example, 2AC can say "Increase can mean create (so there is no violation)" and read the definition card. There is no need to say "A. Counter definition, increase can mean create," read the card, and then say "B. We meet.”

4. Use efficient language
• Omit phrases like "it is" and "there are."
"It is difficult to understand" / "understanding is difficult"
"There are 3 reasons" / "3 reasons."

• Avoid beginning sentences with "this." Join the sentence to the previous one.
"The economy would collapse. This is because of a decline in productivity." /
"The economy would collapse because of declining productivity."

• Instead of "which" and "that" and prepositional phrases use a gerund phrase.
"Passage of the plan, which Democrats oppose, would require that political capital be spent." / "Passing the plan, opposed by Democrats, would require spending political capital." (or “Democrat opposition would cost political capital.”

• Avoid the passive tense; replace passive verbs with active ones. For example:
"The plan will be circumvented by the military." / "The military will circumvent the plan."

• Change being verbs to a stronger verb form.
"Republicans are in opposition to the plan" / "Republicans oppose the plan."

• "Could," "should," and "would" are often unnecessary. Use strong verbs where appropriate.
"The plan would be perceived as increasing costs to business." / "Business will perceive increased costs."

• Words ending in "tion" and "sion" can be replaced by strong verbs.
"The plan will result in the perception of increased costs by business." / "Business will perceive increased costs."

• Prepositional phrases with one-word modifiers can usually be replaced by adjective phrases.
"The cost of the plan will hurt the economy." "The plan cost will hurt the economy."

• "Reason," "why," and "because" are redundant.
"The reason why the costs increase is because of the burden of regulation." "Costs increase because of regulatory burdens."

• Many prepositional phrases are redundant.
"The plan will be inexpensive in cost." / "The plan will be inexpensive."

• "the fact that" is usually redundant
"Given the fact that Republicans oppose . . ." or "Despite the fact that Republicans oppose. . ." / "Given Republicans oppose . . " or "Despite Republican opposition . . ."

• Use concise words:
"Talked in a loud voice." / "yelled" "Came to the conclusion"/ "decided"