WFTDA English VS Earth English

Earlier this week on Facebook Lorna ‘Jael Break’ Coupland came up with my new favorite thing. She said there’s WFTDA English and then there’s Earth English. And I couldn’t agree more.

This was in a discussion about WFTDA’s definition of Down on RDROTD.
She made a good point, but I want to expand on it even more. Because there’s WFTDA English, Earth English, Ref English and CKDC English.

First, let’s look at WFTDA English, ie the first sentence of the glossary definition of Down: "Skaters are considered down if they have fallen, been knocked to the ground, have either or both knees on the ground, or have both hands on the ground."

In literal Earth English, that sentence means: "You are down if you have fallen OR been knocked to the ground OR have any knees on the ground OR have both hands on the ground."

Those ORs mean if any one of those criteria is met you’re down. So if you fall and only touch the ground with one hand and your toe stops you’re still down.

Or, if you are sitting on your butt on the track, not touching with your knees or hands and the ref didn’t see how you got there, you aren’t down.

Of course this isn’t how it is enforced, because of Ref English. Ref English is what officials decide WFTDA was trying to say in a rule, whether or not that’s what the rule actually says. They generally err on the side of making the game work and making it safe.

In this case the Ref English version of this rule is: "If you touch the ground with your knee, or both hands, or your head, or your back, or your butt, or your face, or your chest, or your hip, or your leg, or your elbow, or your shoulder you’re down."

They usually shorten it to “one or both knees or both hands” because players are taught from day one of training that they’re supposed to fall onto their knees. That’s what’s supposed to happen. And the definition is written with that in mind, rather than using a more practical definition.

And that brings us to CKDC English. It’s easy to square WFTDA’s probable intent with how the rules are enforced and with what’s practical, fair and safe by defining Down as "Touching the floor with any part of your body or equipment other than your skates and one hand."

But WFTDA doesn’t work that way. And WFTDA refs don’t insist that rules are written clearly. And WFTDA skaters don’t insist that rules are written clearly.

Don’t you think you deserve better? I do.

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