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They go back as far as the inverted "Nun" letters bracketing certain passages in the TaNa"Ch (Hebrew Scripture): Genesis 6-; Psalms 107; Numbers 10:35-36. Later scholarly readers of these ancient texts in their original ported this into their European languages, in shapes like <> and () that worked with Latin-derived letters' form.


The problem is that, except in certain contexts, the colon is interpreted to be (almost) as "strong" as a "full stop" (period), both in terms of the spoken-language timing/emphasis, and in terms of syntactic analysis. Em-dash, on the other hand, is a hair mushier, but is allowed to take the place of a comma in certain syntactic structures. Placing a colon "...

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