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It seems as if there’s a difference of opinion when it comes to pronouncing Security Information and Event Management. No, not that. Those five words are perfectly pronounceable. But like every tech concept these days, it’s been reduced to an acronym: SIEM. Some are reading it as “seem,” while others insist that it should be “sim.” Recently, when Tom Lawrence of Lawrence Technology Services tested the Blumira SIEM, he asked his audience if they had a preference. “Seem” seems to be winning, but both options have their fans.

We all know some acronyms are pronounced as a word like radar, and scuba. However, if the letters are pronounced individually like CIA or CPR, that’s called an initialism, FYI.

Alphabet soup

So far there doesn’t appear to be universal agreement as to which form of SIEM should prevail.

One thing that does elicit universal agreement: the world has too many acronyms (and initialisms). It’s a grievance that goes way back, yet they’re still proliferating. During World War II, GIs came up with acronyms like FUBAR and SNAFU to poke fun at Army jargon. (The definitions are rated M for mature—you can find them yourself online). 

Alphabet soup is now woven into every aspect of our lives. Anyone who works in government, business, science, medicine, and, of course, technology is living a life teeming with abbreviations. And then there’s our social life, LOL.

Why so many abbreviations?

Why do we keep adding confounding letter combinations to our vocabulary? According to an article in the Association for Psychological Science (APS), there are three main reasons abbreviations persist:

Speed and efficiency. Abbreviations occupy less space on a page and usually they can be pronounced with fewer syllables. SIEM as an acronym saves a lot of time. On the other hand, “www,” takes six more syllables to say than “world wide web.”

Ingroup identity. Acronyms, like slang, identify people as members of a specific culture or group. They give us a way to converse in shorthand and they provide a sense of group cohesiveness. Every industry, occupation, and company has its own language that evolves as new terms are developed. 

Secret code. The word “acronym” has been traced to World War II when it described a way of concealing messages from the enemy. If they’re not used thoughtfully, acronyms can obscure meaning, making communications seem more complicated than they need to be.

We can agree to disagree

The reality is that acronyms and initialisms are here to stay. They really do make life easier in a lot of ways. That doesn’t mean everyone has to agree on how they’re pronounced. For example, there’s the ongoing controversy about the acronym GIF for “graphics interchange format.” Some argue that it should have a hard <g> because the first word is “graphics,” while others insist it’s a <j> sound like the words “ginger” and “giraffe.”

When it comes to the GIF conundrum, we can agree to disagree. At the same time, nobody seems to have a problem pronouncing GUI (“graphical user interface”) as “gooey” rather than “goo-why” or “gee-you-eye.”

So, is “sim” or “seem” the right pronunciation?

If you’re looking for a security information and event management solution, don’t wear yourself out with all fourteen syllables. The team at Blumira doesn’t mind whether you call it “seem” or a “sim,” as long as you call. Because as soon as you do, we can show you how Blumira automates cybersecurity detection, protection, response, and compliance for MSPs and busy IT departments.

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