I've just come across the above-named volume by Lynne Truss:

ISBN 1 86197 6127
It's a lot of fun, and definitely the kind of book for the people who lurk in usage newsgroups. It's endorsed at the front with the claim that striking Bolshevik printers precipitated the Russian Revolution of 1905 by demanding the same rate for punctuation marks as other characters.
Truss's affirms her love of punctuation by recourse to a story she tells of listening to a radio program in the UK called "Many a Slip" in which "erudite and amusing contestants spotted grammatical errors in pieces of prose." Apparently, on cue, one of the contestants would interrupt to deleivery to call "tautology".
I imagine some of them are participants in these newsgroups. Is that true?
Concerned principally with punctuation, Truss starts off declaring herself a "stickler" for punctuation rules, but acknowledges that the rules have been in a continual state of flux.
Her tone is light hearted as she vacillates between being pedantic obssession and self-reproach. She does draw attention in the course of her excursions into some features of punctuation that I found curious.

Apparently, rules attaching to the possessive apostrophe are even more complex than I'd supposed. One of the rules requires that a distinction be made on the basis of when the person lived. Truss asserts that Archimedes demands no apostrophe for his ideas, while Keats gets gets one for his verse, ostensibly because Archimedes was from the "ancient" world. I assume the frontier is the conventional one the fall of Rome although Truss leaves it vague. So, to punctuate correctly, one needs a fairly precise historical knowledge.

This however is not really a reference guide. It's a bit of fun. truss quotes the following on commas:
A cat has claws at the ends of its paws.
A commas's a pause at the end of a clause.
I must remember that.
Apparently it's the case that the possessive apostrophe was initially a contraction. Thus, Henry's wives was initially:
Henry his wives
Truss points out that if the contraction rule were consistent, then Elizabeth her troops, would have to be:
Elizabeth'r troops.
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This however is not really a reference guide. It's a bit of fun. truss quotes the following on commas: A cat has claws at the ends of its paws. A commas's a pause at the end of a clause.

If this quote is accurate, Truss would do well to
compose a mnemonic device for getting apostrophes
right!
BTW, it's amazing what Google comes up with if
one enters (without the quotation marks):
"pneumonic help remember"

Christopher
My e-mail address is not 'munged' in any way and is fully replyable!
This however is not really a reference guide. It's a ... A commas's a pause at the end of a clause.

If this quote is accurate, Truss would do well to compose a mnemonic device for getting apostrophes right! BTW, it's amazing what Google comes up with if one enters (without the quotation marks): "pneumonic help remember"

Great find, Christopher.
I can laugh at this one, but every now and then I hear what comes out of my mouth and nearly collapse. (I hope to avoid such gaffes in my posts, but I am sure I will hear about it from other members here.)

I know that just last week I used infer when I should have used imply.

Where are those imps and why do they behave that way?
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Apparently it's the case that the possessive apostrophe was initially a contraction. Thus, Henry's wives was initially: Henry his wives

Oy! This is an Urban Legend! I believe the FAQ addresses it, does it not?
(snip)
Apparently it's the case that the possessive apostrophe was initially a contraction. Thus, Henry's wives was initially: Henry his wives Truss points out that if the contraction rule were consistent, then Elizabeth her troops, would have to be: Elizabeth'r troops.

I'm sorry to hear she says all that. Our FAQ says otherwise. An excerpt from a longer article about the apostrophe:
http://alt-usage-english.org/excerpts/fxwheret.html

Back in the days when English had many more inflections than it now has, the most common suffix for the genitive singular was -es. (There were several noun declensions, so that not all nouns fitted this pattern; but this could be considered to be the "most regular" case.) For example: mann (=man), mannes (=of the man). Over time there developed a tendency to stop pronouncing the unstressed "e", so that "mannes" became "mann's". The apostrophe stands for the omitted letter.
I'm afraid it sounds like she's in the category with Bill Bryson entertaining for the general public, but willing to tell any good yarn whether or not it's true?

Best Donna Richoux
Pat Durkin:
Where are those imps and why do they behave that way?

Over there in the Swiss, of course.

Mark Brader, Toronto > "These days, it seems even PCs have to be PC." (Email Removed) > Michael Quinion
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Pat Durkin:

Where are those imps and why do they behave that way?

Over there in the Swiss, of course.

Ya got me, Mark. I know of the gnomes of Zurich, but imps?

Or are they in the Swiss cheese? Swiss chocolate?

I give up.

Bob Lieblich
Watches?
Pat Durkin filted:
BTW, it's amazing what Google comes up with if one enters (without the quotation marks): "pneumonic help remember"

Great find, Christopher.

Interestingly, the last hit on the first page appears (at first glance) to use something like the correct meaning for the word:
12 Tips to Help You Choose Warm Clothes... Remember! Your head leaks heat. ... Anything that helps you to radiate heat will help you to cool down. ... Call this tactic saving face if you need an easy pneumonic. ...
www.websiterepairguy.com/articles/ household tips/stay warm.html - 12k - Cached - Similar pages
..r
I've just come across the above-named volume by Lynne Truss:

(snip)
Apparently it's the case that the possessive apostrophe was initially a contraction.

That's correct.
Thus, Henry's wives was initially: Henry his wives

That's rubbish.
Adrian
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