Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles The other day, as I was nonchalantly wandering to the chemist to get some cheese, I thought to myself: "Why am I going to the chemist to get cheese?" And then I remembered. It's all to do with the letters 'CH'. In the word 'nonchalantly', which means in a casual and relaxed manner, the C H in the middle of the word is pronounced [sh]. In chemist, the C H at the beginning is pronounced [k]. But C H in cheese is pronounced [tch]. So why is this? The truth lies as ever in the history of English. English has evolved from many sources. It has invented, absorbed and borrowed vocabulary from those who invaded us and those who we have invaded. The pronunciation of many words can give us a clue where they came from. So what about our friend C H then? What do we know about the origins of the words that pronounce these letters differently? Words that originally came from the Greek language, like chemist, school, mechanic, orchestra, pronounce the C H as [k] . These words may have travelled through other languages, but are often connected with the fields of study, science and politics. The [sh] pronunciation of C H is in words that originally come from French: nonchalant, machine, chauffeur, chivalry and quiche. Which brings us back to cheese again. Words like cheese, church, beach and child can trace their roots back to middle and old English. So how does this help us if we don't know any of this history? The majority of words with C H are pronounced as [tch], this is the biggest group. And words that end in C H are almost always pronounced [tch]. Almost always, but not always always. For example, take the words patriarch, monarch, oligarch, they are of Greek origin and all end in the [k] sound. Interestingly, they are all based on the same root Greek word, which means rule: A R C H, which is, of course, pronounced 'ark'. No, of course it isn't. It's arch. Even though it's a word which comes from Greek, the C H is pronounced [tch]. And you can still get caught out on the odd, very odd, word like yacht. The first time I saw this word, I thought it was pronounced 'yatchet'. But of course, it's not. The C H is [silent]. And don't get me started on the schedule/schedule debate, Which is correct: [sh]edule or [sk]edule? Well, they both are. In British English the pronunciation is [sh]edule, but in American English, it's [sk]edule. According to my schedule, it's time for that cheese. I'm off to the chemist.