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I can't understand the below long sentence.

The string `{}' is replaced by the current file name being processed everywhere it occurs in the arguments to the command, not just in arguments where it is alone, as in some versions of find.

Let's divided it into several parts.

  1. The string {} is replaced by the current file name being processed

It is simple, I knew, being processed is a attribute which modify the current file name.

  1. everywhere it occurs in the arguments to the command,

Adverbs of Place
2.1 it means {}?
2.2 occur to or occur in?

it occurs in the arguments (to the command)
it (in the arguments) occurs to the command?

Which interpretation is correct?

  1. not just in arguments where it is alone

I don't know what does not just in arguments where it is alone mean?

2 Answers 2

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You are correct on point 1 - "the current file name being processed" is a complete noun phrase. "It" is grammatically ambiguous, but semantically, since we're talking about one thing being replaced by another, the only reasonable interpretation is that "it" refers to the thing being replaced (that is, "{}").

On the reading of "occur", "the arguments to the command" is also a complete noun phrase. "Occur to" is a valid phrasing, but only when talking about an idea coming to mind - see definition 3 at the dictionary link. In this case, we're seeing "occur" used according to definition 4, which means "occur in" is correct. {} is replaced whenever it appears in "the arguments to the command".

For your last point, "not just" means that what comes after is in contrast to the scenario above, where {} is replaced everywhere. In other versions of find, "{}" would only be replaced when it appeared "alone", but this is not the case here. I am not familiar enough with the programming context to say exactly what that means, but the important point is that {} is being replaced in all cases.

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As a native English-speaking programmer, I actually don’t think it is a well written sentence, though perhaps I’d understand it in context.

For me it means:

In some versions of ‘Find’, the string will only be replaced in arguments where it is the whole argument, i.e. args[0] = ‘{}’, whereas in this case, it will be replaced everywhere, even when it is not the whole argument, i.e. args[0] LIKE ‘%{}%’.

Does that sound about right (I’ve hacked together a few different programming languages there but hopefully you get the picture!)?

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