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I came across this phrase in source code files open-sourced by Apple.

Here is one such example:

enter image description here

The warning basically means the source code is internal to Apple and is subject to change. We (software developers who use these files) should not expect the 'interface' to stay the same between version. If the interface is indeed changed, any program that depends on the file will be broken.

What I do not quite understand are:

1) Is the phrase "When breaks, you get to keep both pieces" a common one? If so, how is it usually used?

2) Does 'both pieces' means 'two pieces' here?

3) Is it supposed to be playful in tone? Is there any other implied meaning based on the context?

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It's like: when you ruin the program, you keep the program. We're not fixing it... it's yours now. You can keep both pieces (i.e., you broke it in half, so it's not ours anymore). –  Jeremy Jul 8 '13 at 12:47
A fairly common saying in America that is seen occasionally in a publicly displayed sign in retail stores that sell delicate breakables (such as antiques, dishes, pottery, vases, glassware, etc.): "IF YOU BREAK IT, YOU BOUGHT IT," meaning if you insist on handling the merchandise and happen to drop it and break it, you are obligated to pay for it. It's a good rule, I guess, especially for those shoppers who like to "see" with their "hands"! –  rhetorician Jul 9 '13 at 1:09

1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted
  1. I have read this phrase before. I'd say it's common among programmers who are writing their own warnings or licenses for software.

  2. Yes. I believe the metaphor relates to an object that is broken in two, as if software could break in this manner.

  3. Yes, it is playful. It's terse and sarcastic: it seems it may be a criticism of the verbosity of legalese in software licenses.

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You get to keep both [useless] pieces. –  bib Jul 8 '13 at 13:09

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