Paul Collins, in a recent Slate article, cited a study showing “a stunning drop in semicolon usage between the 18th and 19th centuries, from 68.1 semicolons per thousand words to just 17.7.” This is a reference from another article, at Boston Globe, where Jan Freeman quotes views as these: the semicolon is “ugly as a tick on a dog’s belly,” “Real men, goes the unwritten rule of American punctuation, don’t use semi-colons”, the semicolon is “girly,” “odious,” and “the most pusillanimous, sissified, utterly useless mark of punctuation ever invented.”