There is, but it does not help much. There are words whose two last consonants are the same, like רבב (many) when no suffix follows, the last consonant disappears (רב), and in this case the sound in "v". But when a suffix follows (ים) both consonants ar kept (though you keep writing only one), and it is pronounced rabbim.
Not recent. It is very common in the American West. I live in Southern California--up in the hills where bears are plentiful. Whenever I tell someone that bears got into my garbage or beehive or something I often get a humerous response about the apparent ambiguity of the statement. BTW (gay) bears are generally large gay hairy men with a preference for leather. Don't quote me though--not gay--could be nuances I don't know about.
There’s a joke about a guy running away from a bear in a forest, running and running and running until he hits a dead end. So, with his end in sight, he quickly starts praying:
Then suddenly he notices the bear has stopped and started praying:
’…בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ‘
The guy is ecstatic. Look at that, of all the bears that could have chased me, this one is Jewish! Thank you, G–d!
Then he hears the bear finishing his prayer:
I wouldn't say useless. These sentences, funny at times, help remember the vocabulary better, but more importantly help us understand the mechanics of the language. So, in a few more skills you'll learn that an immigrant is עולה, so by then you'll be able to know to say that sentence: כל העולים האלה לומדים עברית.