Why Do Auctioneers Talk Like That?

The breathless cadence of a professional auctioneer is fascinating, and sometimes barely decipherable (tobacco auctioneers are an extreme example). Why do they fill the air with nonstop patter -and so fast?

They talk like that to hypnotize the bidders. Auctioneers don't just talk fast—they chant in a rhythmic monotone so as to lull onlookers into a conditioned pattern of call and response, as if they were playing a game of "Simon says." The speed is also intended to give the buyers a sense of urgency: Bid now or lose out. And it doesn't hurt the bottom line, either. Auctioneers typically take home from 10 to 20 percent of the sale price. Selling more items in less time means they make more money.

Well, that may answer the question, but you can also read about the finer points of auctioneering and how you can learn the routine yourself, at Slate. Link -via mental_floss


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I had a friend way back when who worked for an auction house. He told me the auctioneer would incorporate within his banter instructions to house staff on the floor whose purpose was to subtly encourage or goad particular bidders identified by the auctioneer as susceptible "marks." He said the instructions were simple codes and identifiers that were only noticed by house staff and the object was to drive up bids and, therefore, the auction house's cut. Of course, for all I know the guy was full of crap... but he wasn't a sort given to self-aggrandizing or conspiracies so I always gave it a certain credence.
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