According to my experience, in languages like German, French, Chinese, Japanese, etc., there are not so many exceptions in pronunciation as in English.

For example, given a word in German or French, or pinyin in Chinese, or hiragana/katakana in Japanese, since there are simple and explicit rules regarding pronunciation, it is easy for us to know how to pronounce it as long as we stick to the rules and there is usually no exception. However, there are lots of exceptions or variations in English pronunciation and it is often difficult for learners to tell which is the "correct" pronunciation. That probably makes English harder to learn (in terms of reading), compared to other languages.

It is because many borrowed words have been incorporated in English, from, say, French or German languages, so that the pronunciation became versatile in English ?

It would be great if you can share your knowledge or experience about this issue. Thank you.

Edited: All right, I apologize if you feel confused about my question. Probably I should say spelling instead of pronunciation. I think it is good to give some examples. What I asked here is if there exists a RULE in English to determine the pronunciation of a word from its spelling (regardless of how people from different areas would pronounce it) and I did not ask anything about dialect. For example, the emphasis of the vowels might be different in words like tomato, potato, total. Is there a rule for learners to tell how to pronunce these words ? In terms of names like Tobias, Stephen, Zachary, Kaitlyn, how can we determine the pronunciation of vowel and vowel combinations, e.g. "ai" ? Can we deduce the pronunciation of "Kaitlyn" from "paid" "aid" ? If there is a rule to uniquely determine the pronunciation from the spelling of a word, great, my question can be solved. Thank you.

closed as too broad by user140086, curiousdannii, Mari-Lou A, Rob_Ster, Edwin Ashworth Mar 4 '16 at 10:53

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    German speakers pronounce many words quite differently depending on what part of the country they're from. In Chinese, Ng and Wu are the same name, pronounced in different dialects. And you think the difference between British and American English is confusing????? (On English spelling, you do have a point.) – Peter Shor Mar 2 '16 at 0:53
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    Let me get this straight: you mean that pronunciation varies a lot from place to place? Or is it that spelling doesn't always follow a rule and there are more exceptions than you would expect ? – Centaurus Mar 2 '16 at 1:09
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    Basic foreign language instruction will stick to a single pronunciation for simplicity, usually a "standard" or prestige dialect. For instance, it is Castilian Spanish and Parisian French taught in U.S. high schools even though Mexican Spanish and Montréalais French would arguably be more practical. Still, good teachers of those languages do point out some dialectical differences, at least in passnig. Perhaps OP has had better English teachers than Japanese or German. – choster Mar 2 '16 at 2:12
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    Like I said, you can always guess, based on what you know about English phonetics, the likely origin of the word, how that might have changed over time from the original, what part of the country you’re in, etc, etc. But English doesn’t work by rules. Any “rule” you find was made after the fact to try and explain what actually happens and there are always exceptions and to learn all the rules and all the exceptions is to learn English itself. – Jim Mar 2 '16 at 5:02
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    For some reason lost to history a succession of speakers of different languages -- in order, Romans, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Vikings, Danes, and French -- decided they just had to invade this godforsaken island across the English channel. Each group changed the local dialects. Finally, the English with their resulting language of the same name returned the favor by invading the rest of the world, pillaging (among other things) the languages they encountered. It's a wonder things aren't worse than they are. – deadrat Mar 2 '16 at 9:20