Yes ... negating means evaluating in boolean context!
(well "pure"¹ is a risky adjective in the sphere of Perl's DWIM flexibility ... ;)
Anyway if this approach ever fails it certainly is a bug!
IMHO people prefer using 0 for false because it's easier to print and read than an empty string. But technically this is not necessary.
¹) lets say "well-defined"!
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