An acquaintance asked me whether a form of semicolon deployment that occurs throughout an academic work from the UK, using semicolons where an American text would use em-dashes, is a UK publishing standard or just bad punctuation. Here’s a sample sentence (rewritten to remove identifiers):
His achievement in the book is to make the issue relevant; to bring the debate through a variety of discourses and transform the texts available to him into a poem whose scope encompasses every aspect of governance.
I responded that, as someone used to US standards, I didn’t like it, but I had no idea whether it was OK in the UK. Then it occurred to me that I probably have readers who know, so I thought I’d ask: if you’re used to reading British academic prose, does that semicolon work for you?