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Friday, August 8, 2014

Neight Agort Reeights Ahalf

Neight Agort Reeights Ahalf
From 1971 to 1980 I worked as a clerk on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.  I facilitated trading first in bonds, and later in stocks.

Cranky, you ask, what was the most difficult thing about working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange?

As ridiculous as it might seem the hardest thing about floor trading was knowing immediately without any pause, which was higher, 3/8 or 1/2. 

When I was on the floor everything traded in eighths.  Later trading was in pennies.  Now I am not a dope, I know that 3/8 is smaller than 1/2, but in an environment where everything is shouted out and speed is of the essence it is easy to get confused at which fraction is highest…ok, maybe I am a dope, because it was difficult for me.

Making it even more difficult was in learning how traders called out their bids or offers. If you asked for how a stock (or bond) was quoted they would not say,

“Ibm is bid at 101 and three eighths and offered at 101 and one half.”

They would yell,

“1 n reeights ahalf.”

In trader speak, one eighth was neight, one quarter was agort, three eights was reeights, one half was ahalf…fieights, regorts, seneights finished the string.

My first day on the floor the fractions killed me.  The delay in my interpretation made me look and feel like a complete idiot.

On my way home after that day I repeated in my head over and over:

“Neight agort reeights ahalf fieights regorts seneights one.”  Then I worked backwards:

“One seneights regorts fieights ahalf reeights agort neight none.”

I repeated this over and over, up and down the scale until I could recite it all in less than three (re) seconds.  I never had a problem with quotes again.

I can still recite it today, but I do slow down a bit going from seneights to none.


  1. Well, there's a job I'd not want. Yikes on all that gibberish. Okay, I can talk like that if I'm drinking.

    Have a terrific day Cranky. :)

  2. It's not so hard. Just convert everything to 16ths and divide by 2.

  3. I always wondered what they were saying in the news account. A whole nuther language.

  4. 1/2 = 4/8

    Bigger than 3/8

    1. Yes, I did learn that in third grade, but the reeights did throw me a bit.

  5. I'm not a dope either. I can switch back and forth between two languages fairly easily. But this squirrelly talk (does it sound a bit like Pig Latin?) and the speed and noise would make me crazy and question myself all the time. I don't think I could hack it!

  6. That makes my head hurt. I'd sooner supervise freshman lunch shift all year. Oh, wait. I already do. I would not trade jobs to snort about neights.

  7. That's a talent! If there is one certainty in the universe it is the fact that had I been in your place they would have tossed me out on the street for my incompetence.

  8. You remind me of my son----he does the numbers in his head like this. Wish I could….which is why I still carry around a mini calculator in my purse, hahaha!

  9. The pressure must have been unbelievable. I don't think I could have thrived on an environment like that.

  10. I get it, but it sure sounds confusing!


  11. I could not have done that job. I used to watch open outcry markets and want to start crying from stress - just as an observer. A senior manager at my old company used to say traders are the guys who can count up and down really really fast.

  12. I had to learn a new language when I stepped into a high school classroom to teach for the first time. "Jeet?" = "Did you eat?"
    Downhill from there.

  13. and here i thought this was a civil blog


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