Smooth Talkers: The Linguistic Performance of Auctioneers and Sportscasters, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Smooth Talkers

The Linguistic Performance of Auctioneers and Sportscasters, 1st Edition

By Koenraad Kuiper, Koenrad Kuiper


128 pages

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Paperback: 9780805817201
pub: 1995-10-01
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This book examines the contexts in which sportscasters and auctioneers speak and the characteristic techniques they employ in order to speak fluently. These speakers were selected because they have the capacity to show what happens to speech when speakers are under memory and processing pressure from having to perform other tasks while they are speaking. This volume offers a set of theories to explain how this speech comes into being and identifies the conditions which should be conducive to smooth talking. It then tests the theories by recording, transcribing, and analyzing the speech which is produced in a variety of circumstances.

The major thematic contribution of the monograph is to suggest that the speech of fluent native speakers relies heavily on what might be termed the speaker's phrasal lexicon -- memorized phrases and clauses which are indexed for specific roles in speech. Even in normal speech, speakers are heavily reliant on formulae to speak in a native-like manner rather than as foreigners might do who know the language perfectly but do not know the formulae appropriate to particular contexts.

Cross-disciplinary in nature, this volume:

* provides a systematic, linguistic treatment of formulaic speech,

* offers a close analysis of the speech of sportscasters and auctioneers, and

* explains why speakers resort to formulaic speech.

Of interest to scholars in communication, linguistics, popular culture, and folklore.


"…a thoroughly enjoyable read and should be of interest to all students of message-production processes."

Communication Theory

"Overall, Kuiper's work is an interesting and valuable contribution to our understanding of the universals of the mechanics of spoken language such as repetition, echo forms, framing devices, and so on."

Journal of Sociolinguistics

"…this book is a jewel. It offers a clearly focused theory of formulaic speech and performance grounded in a rich variety of empirical observation. Its segues into culture and orality offer broad appeal to scholars and students in areas of sociolinguistics, language behavior, communication theory, and to some extent, cultural and media studies. On the whole, this book has a great deal to recommend it as a supplementary text in courses in ethnography, communication theory, language behavior, and sociolinguistics. Kuiper's 'how do they do that?' enthusiasm for the extraordinary fluency of his subjects is contagious, and many of the data passages he presents are utterly hypnotic. His claims are compelling, important and lucidly presented, making this an extremely useful piece of work."

Journal of Communication

"…it not only introduces excellent data and insightful analysis, but it also provides a challenging theoretical interpretation."

Language in Society

"This is a neat and compact book…within its length, it not only introduces excellent data and insightful analysis, but it also provides a challenging theoretical interpretation."

Nikolas Coupland

Language in Society

Table of Contents

Contents: Series Editors' Preface. Introduction. The Speech of Sports Commentators. The Speech of Auctioneers. Oral Formulaic Traditions. Formulaic and Ordinary Speech.

About the Series

Everyday Communication Series

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Communication Studies