I just heard on the following SNL skits, entitled "Mid-Day News" from the October 5, 2019 episode hosted by Phoebe Waller-Bridge:




climbing clearly pronounced as /klaimbɪŋ/ instead of the expected /klaimɪŋ/ by two different speakers playing the part of journalists.

This is a first for me.

Do some people also pronounce climb as /klaimb/? How widespread and recent is this spelling pronunciation? Is this specific to American English? Since the whole skit is about rivalry between Whites and Blacks, could it be a marker of Black American English?

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    Sounds like a weird way of trying to really emphasise the word to me. They may be playing off some (perceived? real?) feature of AAVE, but it’s not one I’ve come across if so. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Oct 6 '19 at 10:48

I'm not aware of this being a common pronunciation in any English dialect.

A common feature of American Black English (aka AAVE) is reducing consonant clusters at the ends of words, e.g. "west" will be pronounce like "wes". See Linguistic Features of AAVE

So in the skit, I believe the characters are trying to appear more educated by overcompensating, treating the "mb" in "climb" as a consonant cluster and emphatically pronouncing the normally silent "b". Part of the joke is that this mistake actually marks them as a lower class trying to seem respectable.

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  • Thanks for the answer, I hadn't thought of hypercorrection as a way to account for the aberrant pronunciation we can hear. – grandtout Oct 8 '19 at 6:39

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