It seems to me that semicolons are rarely used today in ordinary English writing – even in newspapers and books. They appear to have been replaced, in many cases, by em-dashes and hyphens (the hyphen being used on the Internet and/or in informal communications). In some cases, semicolons have been replaced by periods (i.e. something which might have previously been one sentence would now be written as more than one sentence). Over what period of time did this change take place, and why?
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