ROTFLMAO is my favorite initialism, as well as the only one I can think of right now that I can’t pronounce consistently. I don’t ever actually say any of them out loud, but whenever I read one in text my brain tries to imagine what it sounds like. And it doesn’t always make sense. FTFY, for instance, sounds like “fitty-fitty” in my head. But ROTFLMAO breaks my brain and I can’t even figure out why.
It can pronounce ROTFL just fine — that’s always been “ROT-full.” But when ROTFL gets upgraded to ROTFLMAO my brain trips on that last part and lands hard enough to scramble efforts toward consistent pronunciation.
It doesn’t help that one of my favorite nonsense songs is the one that goes “papa-ooo-maow-maow” over and over. “But Dave,” you ask, “how is that even close to ROTFLMAO?” To which I have to sheepishly admit that when I read ROTFUL in text, I sometimes hear my brain singing, “ROT-full-ooo-maow-maow.” This is the curse I live with.
The extended length of the initialism seems to trick my brain into throwing a lot more syllables in than should truly be necessary. It’s the only way I can think of to explain how I end up hearing gibberish like “ROW-uh-float-my-mallow.” (For some reason — I’m not sure I even want to know why — any or all of the word “marshmallow” seems to figure into the pronunciation at least 75% of the time.)
It shouldn’t be this difficult for my brain to wrap around. It’s just “ROT-full” with “mao” tacked on the end. It could easily be a straightforward “ROT-full-mow,” or a more playful “ROT-ful-meow” to appeal to the cat lover in me. But it’s not. It’s “ROT-fuller-ma-fallow” or “ROT-ah-flot-ah-MALL-mow-mow.”