That fails when input has leading or trailing blanks:
$ perl -lpe '($_=()=/\s+/g)++' ## leading
$ perl -lpe '($_=()=/\s+/g)++' ## trailing
$ perl -lpe '($_=()=/\s+/g)++' ## both
It's better to count ocurrences of actual elements (\S+):
$ perl -wle 'print scalar (()=/\S+/g) for "a b c", " a b c", "a b c ",
+ " a b c "'
Anyway I prefer split too, like salva++'s 0e0 solution.
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