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gawk: Default Field Splitting

 
 4.5.1 Whitespace Normally Separates Fields
 ------------------------------------------
 
 Fields are normally separated by whitespace sequences (spaces, TABs, and
 newlines), not by single spaces.  Two spaces in a row do not delimit an
 empty field.  The default value of the field separator 'FS' is a string
 containing a single space, '" "'.  If 'awk' interpreted this value in
 the usual way, each space character would separate fields, so two spaces
 in a row would make an empty field between them.  The reason this does
 not happen is that a single space as the value of 'FS' is a special
 case--it is taken to specify the default manner of delimiting fields.
 
    If 'FS' is any other single character, such as '","', then each
 occurrence of that character separates two fields.  Two consecutive
 occurrences delimit an empty field.  If the character occurs at the
 beginning or the end of the line, that too delimits an empty field.  The
 space character is the only single character that does not follow these
 rules.
 
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