How Much Wood Would a Woodchuck Chuck...

Synopsis: Herzog examines the world championships for cattle auctioneers, his fascination with a language created by an economic system, and compares it to the lifestyle of the Amish, who live nearby.
Genre: Documentary
44 min

How did you learn to speak so fast?

"I used to go to a lot of auctions

with my dad.

In our area,

there was this brilliant auctioneer.

I was fascinated

by his ability to hold the attention

of 400 or 500 people.

I wanted to do that someday too.

So I would listen to him.

I began by practicing with numbers."

"Then you move on to tongue twisters,

for example,

in German:

A big black bug bit a big brown bear."

How much wood

would a woodchuck chuck.

Then you start with numbers.

You start building up speed

and establishing a rhythm."

"It takes a lot of practice

and you really have to love to talk."

Have you got another example?

Can you try saying it in slow motion?





Can you decode

what you just said for us?

"Well, I'm selling.

In slow motion, I'm saying,

'I bid $30.

Would you give me $30.50?

Would you give me $30.75?'

And so on."

"More so than that,

it's the personal feeling I get."

"I've managed to reach a goal

I've had since I was six years old.

That one day I'd become

World Champion Livestock Auctioneer."

"I can hardly believe

that I've done it."

"Well, I started practicing

when I was a student

at the National Auction Institute.

I also took lessons

with an opera teacher

to learn breathing techniques.

He taught me to breathe properly,

to develop my volume and stamina.

I used to drive down the motorway

and try to sell

to every telegraph pole that went by.

I'd pretend

they were bidders at an auction."

"Then at every junction

it would start again."

"This broke the monotony of traveling

and gave me the chance to practice."

"I have a few friends in this trade.

They are real, true friends.

They tell me when I make mistakes."

How did you turn professional?

"It always takes practice

to make perfect."

"When I started out

as an auctioneer in 1965,

I was just a kid from the country.

Uncle Sam got me.

After that I started auctioneering."

"And just like Ralph here,

I used to hold auctions with myself."

"You can never get too much practice."

"But where I really started from...

You probably won't believe this.

I was the only one in our family

who would milk the cows."

"I'd sit down on a bucket

and every time I pulled on the udder,

I'd take a bid."

"And then I'd be through milking."

The world championships take place

in the village

of New Holland, Pennsylvania,

one of the centers

for cattle farming in the US.

We thought it important

to show some of the surrounding area

because it is home

to a community of Amish people.

Here they till the soil

and raise the cattle the biblical way.

The Amish are a sect

who originally come from Switzerland.

However, they mainly consist

of a group of German immigrants

who arrived from the Palatinate

around 200 years ago.

These days, they still speak

an old Palatinate dialect.

Their most remarkable trait

is their puritanical attitude

towards developments in our society.

The Amish reject the ideas

of capitalism and competition.

So they are the very antithesis

of the world championships

that are being held

in their region this year.

The Amish also reject progress.

They dress the same

as they did 200 years ago

and still follow

many of the same customs.

The orthodox Amish

even reject electricity and cars.

Today, they still drive

horse-drawn carriages.

It may appear strange at first,

but there's a lot to be said

for their way of life.

They have refused

to participate in war.

They don't suffer

from the pollution problems

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this is the first script i writed. Sorry if my english is bad more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "How Much Wood Would a Woodchuck Chuck..." STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 26 Oct. 2021. <>.

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