Forbidden Words

I would like to stop hearing the following phrases in debates, please. Thank you.

a. “Housekeeping issues” – I will accept this if you wish to share the problems you have mopping your floors and how and how difficult it is to get your brother to clean the bathroom. But stop using it your speeches. If you want to talk about the definition or the policy or the clarifications, say so specifically, please. If I hear these words again, I will put my pen down, walk up to you and pass you a vacuum cleaner.

b. “Ladies and gentlemen” – Once is ok and twice is passable. 83 times in a 4 min summary speech is not acceptable. First, there really are not that many ladies and gentlemen in the room. In fact, I am a bit of a scoundrel. Second, they will start to overwhelm your speech and I will end up counting the number of times you used it (83!) and not bother tracking your points. Third, you are going to faint because you are not pausing and breathing. There is no way I will initiate CPR on anyone on this particular circuit. (exceptions will only be made for the South American and Eastern European ladies taking part at the World Schools Debating Championships). The same applies to “Members of the House.”

c. “At the end of the day” – At the end of the day, at 2359, I am usually fighting Leonardo Di Caprio in a dream within a dream. At the end of the (work)day, at 1800, I am usually still stuck in the office answering calls from cranky Singaporeans. At the end of days, the Four Horsemen will come. So…. let’s not talk about the end of the day, ok?

d. “We say” – This appears to be the useless phrase du jour on the circuit. Instead of just saying something, the speakers now put “we say” before every sentence. WHY? You are already saying it. Why are you wasting time and energy on useless words? If this goes on, speakers will be going ” we say as we stand here and breathe the air in this debate room thanks to our parents who procreated and gave birth to us that the motion must stand because of argument x which we thought about while prepping over at the burger king at Yew Tee Square which has the cute check out girl.”

e “We think” – I find this less offending but it is still annoying in a different way. This phrase makes arguments weaker, because they are reduced to the speaker’s mere opinions. Speakers should be more assertive in making their points instead of adding these qualifiers.

f. “Questions” – Argh… This is an annoying trend that I notice only in Singaporean debaters (and Singaporean newspaper articles, come to think of it). Instead of putting forward an argument or counter argument, the speakers only raise a question. ” Don’t you think we need this?” “Won’t this hurt the economy?” …. I don’t know!!! Will it???? Answer your own question! or better yet, don’t use a Q&A format in formulating arguments for goodness sake. I guess people are trying to be polite or something and so this questioning tone is adopted. Which is fine when you are trying to console a heartbroken girl who just got dumped by the asshole guy you warned her about. “Why didn’t you dump him sooner?” works better here. But not in a debate. Be firm and be assertive in arguing. “You should have dumped his ass sooner.”

g. “Go with the proposition” – Go where? Back to school with you? To a picnic in Botanic Gardens? Why must the Judge go anywhere?

h. “I will deal with this later” – No no. You will deal with it now! Because you will surely forget to deal with it later.

i. ” My follow-up speaker will deal wtih this” – No no. Your follow-up speaker didn’t even hear you say that. And later on, you two will end up arguing about this. Just do everyone a favour by dealing with arugments and POIs right NOW.

j. “Myopic ” – I just find it hilarious that a bunch of squinty -eyed debaters would be accusing each other of this trait.

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