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The Chant

Often, when people think of auctioneers, they usually think of someone who talks really fast. It can sound confusing at first. Once you understand how the chant is used it is easier to follow.

The method of rapid-fire talking is called the auctioneer's chant. The rhythmic chant used by most auctioneers in the United States is unique to North America. It evolved as auctioneers saw the need to sell items in a more rapid manner. The steady rhythm allows the auctioneer's chant to move more rapidly than normal speech. Since auctioneers have a limited amount of time to sell many items, they need to speak quickly. Unlike other types of sales, an auction is an event where all the customers are present at the same time. Thus, the auctioneer is responsible for selling all the items within a few hours, and his or her use of the chant helps keep the items moving.

The chant is a series of numbers connected by "filler" words to give the buyer time to think between bids. 

A basic auctioneer chant goes like this:
"l dollar bid, now 2,
now 2, will ya give me 2? 

2 dollar bid, now 3,
now 3, will ya give me 3? 

3 dollar bid, now 4,
now 4, will ya give me 4?"

Most auctioneers have their own series or combination of filler words. The filler words are everything except the numbers. Filler words are used to remind buyers of the last number bid and to give buyers time to consider - whether they want to bid higher. 

Besides keeping the auction moving, the fast-paced chant creates excitement and makes the auction environment entertaining. Auctioneers will adjust their pace, depending on the bidding experience of their crowd. After all, the auctioneer can only chant as fast as the bidders will bid. The numbers are the most important part of the chant, and are pronounced the most clearly. 

Do not be afraid to ask someone on the auctioneer's staff if you are not sure of what the bid is, if you do not understand the auctioneer, or if you need help understanding the auction process.

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