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Korn Shell: Unix and Linux Programming Manual, Third Edition, The by Anatole Olczak

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Field Splitting

After parameter expansion and command substitution, the results of substitutions are scanned for the field separator characters (those found in IFS) and split into distinct fields where such characters are found. Explicit null fields (" " or ' ') are retained. Implicit null fields (those resulting from parameters that have no values or command substitutions with no output) are removed.

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