Obviously cut out of a much more complex script that was more meaningful:


function InitializeConfig(){
    declare -r -g -A SHCFG_INIT=( [a]=b )
    declare -r -g -A SHCFG_INIT=( [c]=d )
    echo "This statement never gets executed"

set -o xtrace

echo "Back from function"

The output looks like this:

ronburk@ubuntu:~/ubucfg$ bash bug.sh
+ InitializeConfig
+ SHCFG_INIT=([a]=b)
+ declare -r -g -A SHCFG_INIT
+ SHCFG_INIT=([c]=d)
+ echo 'Back from function'
Back from function

Bash seems to silently execute a function return upon the second declare statement. Starting to think this really is a new bug, but happy to learn otherwise.

Other details:

Machine: x86_64
OS: linux-gnu
Compiler: gcc
Compilation CFLAGS:  -DPROGRAM='bash' -DCONF_HOSTTYPE='x86_64' -DCONF_OSTYPE='linux-gnu' -DCONF_MACHTYPE='x86_64-pc-linux-gn$
uname output: Linux ubuntu 3.16.0-38-generic #52~14.04.1-Ubuntu SMP Fri May 8 09:43:57 UTC 2015 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Lin$
Machine Type: x86_64-pc-linux-gnu

Bash Version: 4.3
Patch Level: 11
Release Status: release
  • Weird. Doesn't happen in bash 4.2.53(1).
    – choroba
    Jun 14, 2015 at 7:22
  • I can reproduce this problem with bash version 4.3.11 (Ubuntu 14.04.1 LTS). It works fine with bash 4.2.8 (Ubuntu 11.04).
    – Cyrus
    Jun 14, 2015 at 7:34
  • Maybe related: unix.stackexchange.com/q/56815/116972 I can get expected result with declare -r -g -A 'SHCFG_INIT=( [a]=b )'.
    – yaegashi
    Jun 14, 2015 at 23:22
  • By gum, you're right! Then I get readonly warning on second declare, which is reasonable, and the function completes. The xtrace output is also interesting; implies declare without single quotes is really treated as two steps. Ready to become superstitious about always single-quoting the argument to declare. Hard to see how popping the function stack can be anything but a bug, though.
    – Ron Burk
    Jun 14, 2015 at 23:58

1 Answer 1


I found this thread in [email protected] related to test -v on an assoc array. In short, bash implicitly did test -v SHCFG_INIT[0] in your script. I'm not sure this behavior got introduced in 4.3.

You might want to use declare -p to workaround this...

if ! declare -p SHCFG_INIT >/dev/null 2>&1; then
    echo "looks like SHCFG_INIT not defined"
  • Well, rats. I think your answer is correct, but also reveals I'm really asking two separate questions when I thought they were probably the same issue. Since the title better reflects what turns out to be the "other" question, I'll leave this up for a while and see if anybody knows what's up with the mysterious implicit function return... Thanks!
    – Ron Burk
    Jun 14, 2015 at 17:01
  • Edited question to focus on the remaining issue. Thanks again for the answer on the "-v" issue with associative arrays.
    – Ron Burk
    Jun 14, 2015 at 17:55
  • Accepting this answer. Complete answer is here plus your comments above plus (IMHO) there's a bug in this version of bash (can't see how there can be any excuse for popping the function stack without warning). Thanks for your excellent research on this!
    – Ron Burk
    Jun 21, 2015 at 19:31

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