It's an emergent behaviour; it's not by design.
What's that mean (important why)?
It goes back far enough (5.8 at least) and its in t/op/sub_lval.t update: since 2001
so it emerged? long ago :)
OTOH, a reference to an alias takes a reference to the original and incrementing tat referenced value increments the original -- can't see any aliasing magic being preserves, references reference
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