Some time ago, a man from Kolywood (the Chennai equivalent of Hollywood) was giggling at a tea-shop, “The film has plopped”. The man, probably a helper in one of the film studios of Kodambakkam (the name Kolywood is derived from this name), Chennai (formerly Madras), might have meant “flopped”, a word he learnt from his better informed colleagues. As there is no fricative ‘f’ sound in Tamil language, he might have slipped on the sound ‘f’ and used the more familiar ‘p’ sound.
On second thought, I realize that in English language, the meaning of the word need not follow any philological principle with the spelling or pronunciation.The word “flop” means anything which falls down clumsily (no doubt with a noise). But it is spelt with a soft ‘f’ sound, whereas the word ‘plop’ which means something that drops down smoothly without even a splash (eg. a rain drop falling into a pool of water) is spelt with a hard plosive sound ‘p’. To me, it defies logic. But English spellings do not always follow logic. Take the word ‘receipt’ for example. It is pronounced /risi:t/ ( riseet). But, when I pronounce the word as such, the shop assistants look at me strangely. Some noble souls attempt to teach me the “correct” pronunciation : “Sir, do you mean receiPt? fully sounding the letter ‘p’ with extra emphasis. I invariably say “yes” and avoid acrimony.
The poor cine-worker cannot be faulted. He might be a light-boy. A failed film roll, quietly rolling into a convoluted shape into a round tin-box does’t make any fanfare and it only ‘plops’ into its ignoble end without a whimper.