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Software cuts the 'bull' from e-mail

Program helps leverage the paradigm from business writing

Deloitte Consulting urges site visitors to send e-cards such as this to tell their friends about the
Deloitte Consulting urges site visitors to send e-cards such as this to tell their friends about the "bull" program.

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Deloitte Consulting said employees voted "leverage" as the most hated word, followed by "bandwidth" and "touch base." Other incomprehensible words were "incentivize," and "envisioneer."

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- A new software program sends a clear message to corporate America -- cut out the bull.

New York-based Deloitte Consulting admits it helped foster confusing, indecipherable words like "synergy," "paradigm," and "extensible repository," but now it has decided enough is enough. On Tuesday, the company released "Bullfighter" to help writers of business documents to avoid jargon and use clear language.

"We've had it with repurposeable, value-added knowledge capital and robust, leveragable mindshare," Deloitte Consulting partner Brian Fugere said.

Spotting trouble

"Bullfighter," as the software is called, could help investors spot troubled companies. Used to test language used by now-bankrupt energy trader Enron from 1999 through 2001, Fugere said the program found "it got progressively more obscure as they got deeper and deeper into trouble.

"We think that's a good indicator of the linkage between clear and straight communications and business performance, including the issue of transparency and trust, which is such a big issue these days," Fugere said.

Black-and-white photographs of matadors fighting real bulls accompany the instructions.

Employees hate 'leverage'

Marketing director Chelsea Hardaway said employees had fun developing the program over 9 months. They came up with about 10,000 "bullwords." The final version has a dictionary of 350 words and gives users the ability to add more.

"It flags your 'bullwords' but then it gives you sort of a good-humored lashing over why you have used those words," Hardaway said of the program, which works on Microsoft Word and PowerPoint documents much like those that check spelling.

The program, which can be downloaded free at, was tested on statements by 30 big U.S. companies. Home improvement retailer Home Depot was first for clarity on the "Bull Index," while computer hardware and software companies suffered the lowest scores for readability.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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