French or English – Which language has more exceptions?

I was talking to a German colleague about the differences between French and English. This colleague has learnt both English and French as a second language and he had a very different viewpoint than what I have heard so far. So far, I have heard every one complain about the exceptions in French.

He said that English has more exceptions than French. He said that the English Grammar is very easy to pick up. But once you have learnt the basics, you will have to learn lot of exceptions and you can never spell a new word you have heard confidently no matter the level of proficiency you reach. He said that English has no standard rules about where to put the stress in a word – some words are stressed at the beginning, some at the middle and some at the end.

In contrast, French Grammar is quite steep and might take a longer time to learn. But once you know the rules, there are fewer exceptions compared to English. He said that the French pronunciation is more-or-less standardized and the stress is always on the last syllable of the word. He gave me some examples which I could not appreciate at this stage. So far, I have heard lot of people talk about exceptions in French. I have even heard that French has more exceptions than rules. As I am having a hard time in getting a handle on French pronunciation, it is heartening to hear from someone that French pronunciation is easy once I learn the rules.

Since I have learnt English as a child, I never realized that it had so many exceptions, especially when it comes to pronunciations. I am realizing this as my son is starting to read and asking me questions about why we pronounce some words differently than how they were supposed to be pronounced based on what he has learnt using phonetics. I guess that every language has its own share of exceptions as languages are living beings and they undergo change continually to keep up with the changing times and to accommodate new ideas. This is very true of a language like English which has devoured words and ideas from every language it has come into contact with.

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