Except that's not what switch said. He explicitly stated that there was a formal rule that disallowed the use of ; with dialog.
I'll admit, I can't remember a single big publisher published author who used semi-colons in dialogue. It's mostly used in the narrative. (I'll admit, though, since I tend to explore complex issues in my dialogue, I do occasionally use them in my longer dialogues.)
How, without having to toss a dialog tag in the middle?
I'll admit, my use of action tags (separate sentences focusing on physical actions which identify who's speaking), tend to impart a time element. The following sentence:
"We can't do that!" Phil spun around, stalking across the room. "It'll impact too many people."
specifies what was said, details what the speaker does after his initial comment, then has him resume speaking.
In order to have them occur concurrently, you'll need the dialogue tag, as you guessed.
"This won't work," Taylor argued, pacing the floor, "the flux capacitor isn't fully charged yet."
That's not due to the dialogue tag, but to our previous discussion about the time difference between commas and periods.
but then say you cant just drop the dialogue tag from the original to have:
He smiled, "I like that!"
I must say, using your example, I would agree. I'd never drop the dialogue tag. It's not so much a rule, as it simply doesn't work without the dialogue tag. It's not that the dialogue tag is required, but that, without it, the verb is assumed to be a defacto dialogue tag, and since it wasn't intended as one, it makes a bad one which is likely to trip readers up.
It's not that there's a rule against action tags, it's just that, given how people read, they just don't seem to work the way you're intending.
I agree, but the dictionaries are saying OK is how it's spelled out.
No, what they say is that "OK", "Okay" and "ok" are all valid variations. But that doesn't mean they are equal in all instances. I'll use "OK" in the narrative, but I'll spell it out in dialogue so it sounds like what the speaker is saying. However, I'll also include "FBI" or "CIA" in dialogue, since that's how it's pronounced. Call me inconsistent, but it just makes more sense to me.
How else would you spell NCIS?
Naval Criminal Investigation Service?
That's different. The speakers generally use the acronym, spelling out each letter. However, when you do that, you also need to define the term, so readers unfamiliar with it won't get confused. That's a separate element, generally independent of the ongoing discussion (even if it's included in dialogue). However, you wouldn't want to slow down a discussion by having each character say "Naval Criminal Investigation Service" each time. If you've ever watched the TV shows, any time they stop someone, no one ever asks "What the hell is an NCIS?" They simply don't want to slow the story down with details unnecessary for the regular fans (new watchers be damned).
Belaboring my point about showing vs. telling with dialogue tags, my point is that you need to understand the difference so you can choose when to use each one. Unless you're writing a short descriptive story, you don't want to waste time embellishing unimportant details. However, the more important story elements are often worth putting more effort into. But I think we've beat the dead show/tell argument enough. We're not convincing anyone to change their existing styles. It was only brought up here to illustrate why you might not want to use "he insisted" as a dialogue tag.
All of that is true, the problem is the "He smiled, 'I like that.'" doesn't have the same meaning as "He smiled then said 'I like that.'" The former indicates a tone of voice that the latter doesn't.
Just switch "and then", which includes an implicit time delay, with "and said", which is more immediate (concurrent).
Concerning the entire thread, we seem to be at an impass(?). Two of us are fully for moving action tags to a separate sentence, while the others flat out refuse to even consider it. I can't see anything to be gained by belaboring the point. Yet, I keep contributing, because I see this as an important point. If anyone else is still following the conversation, maybe someone will see a difference. Otherwise, we may as well be discussing food porn.