The Arguer’s Lexicon

Prepared by the Ontario Humanities Council on
Rhetoric, Argumentation, & Philosophy

The language of argumentation is replete with technical terms – and the list keeps growing. To be conversant in the field, it is no longer enough simply to know about standpoints and stages, backing and warrant, dialectical tiers, dialogue games, and argument schemes. Today’s argumentation theorists also need to be able to tell their ennis from a hoaglund. What does it mean when you are told that your argument could still use some fogelin’ around the edges, that it’s too kauf-filled, or that there are not enough gilberts? Is it good to be told your arguments are very hansen or quite zarefsky? Is a krabbe dangerous? And what is a tony-blair? No one wants the embarrassment of not even knowing what it means to be charged with being lost in the Woods without a walton map. Argumentation can be a pretty finocchiaro business.

Because the technical vocabulary of argumentation is so highly developed, but also so rapidly evolving, it was thought that a glossary of contemporary terms of art might be a useful and welcome addition to our argumentation libraries. Herewith, then, on the occasion of the 9th OSSA conference, we call for the garssen to bring us a pint of christin’d ale so we may toast the Frans of Argument as we present this lexicon as a true govier of the seriousness of the situation.

Formal apologies are extended in advance to all those who are offended by the definitions of any of these terms. And sincere apologies are also extended to those who are not offended by their definitions. Finally, we offer rhetorical apologies to those who would have liked to have been offended but were omitted. The choice of terms was restricted by the limited imaginations of the editors. However, since argumentation theory is a vital and ongoing project with a constantly evolving language, suggestions for additions and revisions for possible future editions would be welcome, because this is, after all, just a ralph draft.

Submitted by the Ontario Humanities Council
on Rhetoric, Argumentation, and Philosophy

Phil Ayshis Ida Laudientz Ann Tillogism
Vera Cundiam Modiste O’lins Ilya Tivcor
Ayub Jecht Rhett Orishen Phillip Uster

aberdein interjection. Scottish euphemism for “I’ll be damned!” “Well, aberdein!  There’s some virtue in that argument after all.”

adle v. To commit a category mistake in the attempt at justification, e.g., by an appeal to ethics in epistemology or an appeal to epistemology in ethics. Hence, adled, adj, with confused justification; and adler, n. one who adles. 

agnes – adj. With a disarming smile. “It’s hard to argue with her when she’s being such an agnes.” n. agnesity. Pleasantry as a rhetorical strategy. “When dealing with a hostile crowd, agnesity is the best policy.”

anscombre n. The smallest unit length of an enunciation; hence, the smallest swerve in the direction of an argument. 1,000 anscombres = 1 ducrot.

aristurtle n. The ancient creature upon whose back the whole world of argumentation theory rests. Distinguished by its quintessentially impenetrable shell, it is reputedly the Ur-source for all wisdom.

austintatious adj. Displaying a fine sense for the niceties of language. “I’m not sure what his point was, but his presentation was certainly austintatious.”  [Definition from The Philosopher’s Lexicon]

bailin’ & battersby – A “dialectical” (i.e., good cop/bad cop) method for teaching critical thinking. “If the fun and games of ennis matches aren’t effective, you might have to resort to some bailin’ and battersby to get your students up to speed.”

bermejo-luquen. Inexplicably effective rhetorical practice. “I don’t know what happened. We were poised to win the committee’s approval until the chair pulled off a last minute bermejo-luque.”

blair – n. The domesticated hybrid of a wolverine and a Canadian grizzly, very popular as a cuddly, stuffed animal. “Tony-blairs, with their pre-programmed arguments, are even outselling teddy-blairs this year.”

boger-man – n. A scholar-archaeologist obsessed with finding the One True Aristurtle. “There’s a bit of Indiana Jones in every boger-man.”

brockriede v. To subject a text to rhetorical criticism. “The argument may work, but I’ll know better after I give it a thorough brockrieding.”

cam-polo – n. The sport of tele-viewing deep disagreements.

chrisreeding gerund. The project of transforming vague or ambiguous ordinary language texts into precise but incomprehensible formal ones.

Christin’d Alen. The sanctified ale required for orators at the ritual symposia of the Frans of Argument.

cicero n, pl.  A Latinate term for untamed figures of speech, preserved in the opening lines of the traditional drinking song for debaters:

Oh, give me a tome, where the cicero roam,
and krabbe and eemeren play;
Where johnsons abound, tony-blairs can be found,
And a perelman can argue all day

cohen n. An incomprehensible metaphor. Zen cohens make no sense before you work through them; dan cohens make no sense after you work through them.

dale jacket n. A full-length protective sleeve inoculating the logic of one’s arguments from semantic paradox and incompleteness. “We were sure the argument was fallacious but none of our criticisms could penetrate the dale jacket.”

dascal’s wager n. The action of a compulsive arguer; putting one’s mouth where one’s money is in regards to the claim that it is always reasonable to argue in the pursuit of knowledge.

derek – n. A large crane used to draw weighty conclusions. “We couldn’t get the conclusion to fall into place until we gave the derek to Allen.”

ducrot n. The unit of “argumentivity” in an enunciation as measured by the straight-line distance (“as ducrot flies”) from the “center of the description” to its implied conclusion.

eemerenn., (From the acronym “M.R.N.”) Multiply-regulated negotiations. “Unless we can get management and the union to agree to an eemeren, the dispute will never be resolved.”

El Sebarth – The legendary heroine whose famous battle-cry, “Empire Callogic!” struck fear in the hearts of Formal Dragons everywhere.

ennis n. Originally, an archaic and obscure game of wits, now referring by extension to any test of one’s critical thinking abilities. Hence, the idiom “Ennis, anyone?” as an invitation to argue.

feteris paribus clause – A qualifying clause applicable only in legal contexts.

finocchiaro adj. (fin + chiaro, end of light) Purified of all clarity; rendered obscure. “I thought I understood Galileo’s argument until that deft analysis made it all finocchiaro.”

Frans of Argumentn. A secret society dedicated to critical discussions strictly adhering to an ascetic code of conduct. “Are you a member of the Frans of Argument? I hear the rules are strict but some strategic maneuvering is allowed.”

freeman – Completely unfettered by objections. Said of a premise vacuously acceptable to everyone. 1 Freeman = 10 kilo-quintilians.

garssen – The honorific title accorded the head-waiter in the main banquet hall of the temple of the Frans of Argument. “Garssen! We need more Christin’d Ale for the pilgrims.”

gilbertn. The unit of measurement for the kisceral quotient of an argument. “When Miqqi Alicia gets going in an argument, the gilberts really pile up.”

godden adj. Said of beliefs: acquired through mysterious but allegedly justified processes of doxastic change. “His premises were the ill-godden gains of untrained intuition.”

goddu adj. The cross between a linked argument and a convergent one; an incomprehensible hybrid. “What kind of goddu argument is that?”

goldman n. An epistemic unit of argument quality. “Her argument was worth its weight in goldmans.”

goodwin n. A manifestly adequate victory serving no discernible function.

groarke n. The sound of a visual argument, audible only to a select few.

gratton adj. The lost culinary art of following recipes with infinite regresses. “They take forever to prepare, but the potatoes au gratton are worth the wait!”

grennan n. A textbook example. “That’s a grennan of a sneaky henkeman.”

grice n. Implicit blessedness. “Fred was in a state of grice, not because of what he said but because of what he didn’t say.”

grootendorst adj., Said of an argument that can be endorsed from its final conclusion all the way down to its deepest roots. “The argument wasn’t merely valid or cogent or even sound: it was completely grootendorst.”

habermas v. To overwhelm an opponent by an elitist appeal to popular opinion. “By the time he offered his teenage daughter’s tweets as further examples of distortion-free communication, I knew I’d been completely habermassed.”

hamblev. To criticize an opponent’s examples as unimaginative, contrived, or hackneyed. “I thought my argument was pretty good but the commentator gave it some pretty rough hamblin’”

hampleadj. More than simply sufficient in resolving interpersonal conflict. “The boys were given hample warning and that stopped their fighting.”

hansen adj. Careful and scholarly, but ultimately of interest only to its author. “That was really quite a hansen treatment of Mill’s argument.”

hatch v. To indulge in educational idealism. Hence, hatcher, n. One who hatches head-in-the-cloud schemes for educational reform. “Little Donald became such a hatcher after talking with the toulman.”

hitchcock n. An unfair advantage gained in argument by appealing to actual empirical data. “We thought we had her cornered until Inga pulled out her hitchcock.”

hoaglundn. The net weight of the burden of proof.

houtloss – v. To pursue an argument above and beyond the call of duty – and beyond the capacity of one’s opponents. “With his extraordinary stamina, Peter was able to houtloss everyone else at the negotiating table.”

innocenti pl. n. The uninitiated, hence pure, novitiates seeking admission into the frans of Argument.

jackson-and-jacobs n. The academic party game also known as “Find the Premise.”

johnson n. The vital force of an argument’s manifest rationality. “When the full magnitude of Ralph’s johnson was revealed, the opponents quickly retreated from their standpoint.”

john-stone n. The foundation for groundless argumentation. The product of exposing a philosopher’s stone to Christin’d Ale.

kahane n. An objection that a proposal, argument, or text is abstract and irrelevant. “If you insist on recasting philosophical arguments in FDL, anyone with a quintilian of critical thought will raise kahane.”

kauf – Clearing one’s throat for the purposes of making an implicature. “There was more to his argument than meets the eye because it was so kauf-filled.”

kienpointner n. A sharply persuasive indicator. “He never reached the conclusion of his argument because a kienpointner sent him into the Woods.”

kneale v. To genuflect respectfully in the direction of tradition. “Despite all the advances in argument analysis, he’s still knealing before Russell and Frege.”

kock n. A conclusion that may be true but is pragmatically impossible for one party to accept. “He has his reasons but it’s still a tough kock to swallow.”

konishi adj. Heterogeneous; effected by external ideas. “After debating Takuzo, my original position became all konishi.”

krabbe n. A beast of burden-of-proof obscurely descended from the aristurtle. “You might think the ball is in my court, but in this dialogue, you’re the krabbe – and I’d guess you’ve got at least 10 hoaglunds to carry.”

kraus v. To transgress the boundaries of the common ground of argument. “He really kraused the line at the Skeptics’ Society meetings with his repeated references to Holy Scripture.”

kvernbeak n. A northern songbird fond of pecking holes in narrative texts.

langsdorfn. A rehab facility specializing in rhetorical treatment programs for recovering pragmatist metaphysicians.

leff v. To inflate the rhetorical value of old speeches. “His analysis of Galileo’s argument was completely unleffened.”

lume v. To shed epistemological light on a subject. “After Chris lumed it, the conclusion was acceptable to everyone.”

marcin n. An alien interloper from another sphere of argument.

meuffel v.  To strategically maneuver an opponent into total silence. “His argument was working until he was meuffeled.”

naess adj.  Environmentally sound and ecologically valid. “What a naess idea!”

okeefe n. A zarefsky distinction between distinctions: okeefe-1 distinctions are made within a single private language; okeefe-2 distinctions cross untranslatable linguistic borders. “You may think it’s an okeefe-2 distinction but I’m pretty sure you’re just confusing a thing with itself.”

paglieri n. A trusted adviser to the main spokesperson in an argument between rival factions; someone who can be counted on to do the dirty work in conflict “resolution.”

patterson n.  (Contraction of pattern’s son). Second-order order; an emergent pattern at the meta-level. “Steven can find pattersons in places where even Immanuel can’t, like rivers, roads, and especially rail networks.”

perelman n. An arbitrary member of a universal audience. “We thought he was a representative perelman but he turned out to be a high-ranking member of the Frans of Argument.”

pinto n. The punctuation mark signaling the conclusion of an argument. “Are you sure you want an exclamation pinto there? I think a probability pinto is more warranted.”

plant v. The use of emotional appeals to justify inserting emotion into reasoned dialogues. “Is Descartes the only French thinker able to resist plantin’ his philosophy with equal measures of pathos, bathos, and wit?”

plug n. A quick fix for for a leaky argument. “That line of reasoning is flawed beyond repair. Let’s pull the plug on it now.”

plum v. To excavate in shallow mines. Hence, plumer, n. one who seeks treasures in unlikely places. “Who but a real plumer would think to look for philosophical insights into arguments in law school entrance examination results?”

quintilian – The smallest detectable degree of support for a position. “That argument doesn’t lend even a quintilian of credence to your proposal.”

ralph adj. Answering questions that no one has bothered to ask. “It was just a ralph draft – all dialectical tier and no illative core.”

roone v. To purge of offensive sexist language. “She rooned my examples.” Hence, rooney, adj., having been rooned. “The reasoning is solid but the prose is a bit rooney.”

santibañez n. A controversial form of baptism that is arguably metaphorical –unless, as some maintain, it is only metaphorically arguable. “Does spilling my mug of Christin’d Ale on the first copy of Cogency count as an act of santibañez?”

schwedn. The visual placeholder for the un-aspirated parts of argument.

scriven adj. Summatively evaluated. “The argument was written and re-written, inspected and dissected, analyzed, schematized, and thematized, and finally scriven, so the committee’s work is done here.”

siegel v. To skewer an opponent in such a way as to leave the victim unaware that her position has been eviscerated and even grateful for the experience.

sladepred. Outclassed. “Though he had the more substantial argument, he was, to but it bluntly, slade by her presentation.”

sneaky henkeman n. A coup de grace of strategic maneuvering accomplished by praeteritio.

thagard n. The region of the brain that is active in argument. “His thagard was in danger of becoming permanently atrophied until he joined the Frans of Argument.”

tomgood night n. The astronomical impossibility of darkness simultaneously covering the complete surface of the planet, thereby bringing closure to an entire sphere of argument. “It’ll be a cold day in hell and one helluva tomgood night on earth before that controversy gets settled.”

toulman n. The proprietor of a theoretical hardware store servicing all fields of inquiry. “Although the toulman was a master craftsman with all the formal tools in aisle 3, he never sold any of them without a field fight.”

true govier n. The sincere acknowledgement of the reasonableness of an unreasonable position. “The protestors were getting unruly until the provost offered a true govier of their grievances.”

vanlaar curve – The closed linear path following the curvature of reasoning from a premise back to itself. The natural progression of a krabbe seeking to get out from under a hoaglund.

walton n. (From wall + ton) A massive edifice with no ends in sight. “You’d need an entire walton map to navigate the Woods.”

weinstein markn. A logical symbol indicating the absolute truth of a relative point. “The invention of the weinstein mark was instrumental in the development of universal, field-independent, and formal accounts of the disciplines.”

wenzel v. To follow a meandering line of reasoning. “The audience waited patiently as he wenzeled his way to the conclusion.”

willard adj. Solidly rooted in the shifting sands of community. “The argument may be willard in Louisville, but it counts as adled in New York.”

the Woods – Mythical labyrinthine wilds whose exit can only be reached abductively.

zagar – The quixotic attempt to reduce argument to rhetoric. “Igor’s analysis was close but no zagar.”

zarefsky adj. Quietly effective (argumentation). “Not flashy, but really quite zarefsky in the end.”

zenker n. A fix-it person for arguments; an academic handyman. “The anthology project is collapsing, the conference is in chaos, and my conductive argument is going-nowhere. Do I ever need a zenker!.”

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