... it abuses context ...
It uses, not abuses it.
... even though it's perfectly reasonably to want to reverse a string and use it in list context.
Perfectly reasonable; and perfectly doable, and perfectly simple:
It is also perfectly reasonable (and simple) to want to reverse a list;
(I know you know that but ... see below.)
In both cases, 'reverse' is the proper description of the process, so which operation would you invent some other term for? And what would that term be? (And why would you do that when it isn't necessary?)
The problem here is simply one of education. Once you understand the concept of context, it becomes obvious and trivial. Maybe you, like me, made that mistake once or twice when you started Perl; but now it doesn't even cause me pause for thought. Why do you think that others won't 'get it' just as quickly?
Ditto for the other things you cite. It's just a matter of education.
For me, the rot set in with the publication of PBP. Behavioural modification through proscription has always been a slippery slope to a hiding to nothing. It is not that (some of) the justifictions for the guidelines weren't good reasons for paying close attention to the constructs proscribed. Just totally naiveté that the guidelines would not be seen as rules by some; and be used as rod with which to beat Perl by those an ax to grind or lacking the wit to understand the whys and benefits. It was all so predictable. (And predicted!)
We could argue forever about whether backtofront() or maybe juxtapose() or some other word could have been chosen for one of (which?) those two reverse operations; but that is to try to rewrite history. Too little; too late. (And IMO, completely unjustifiable.)
Besides, Perl6 that you promote, works hard (via both class-based namespaces and multi-methods) to permit the re-use of operation names (methods) explicitly to avoid the old-style need to invent unique names for similar operations being applied to different datatypes.
I'm not sure exactly when reverse made it into the language, but it has been there for a very long time, and far too long to consider 'correcting it' now. Doing so now would not spark a revival in Perl(5)s fortunes, so it is a pointless discussion.
What might help would be a good exploration and discussion on the benefits of context. Along with same of the many other widely misunderstood unique elements of Perl. Open discussion, examination and education of the merits and strengths that come from multi-paradigm programming languages rather than trying to hide those differences under a thin veneer of appeasing uniformity.
For example. Perl's threading -- and in particular, its only-explicitly-shared data methodology -- has come, and continues to come under widespread misunderstanding and fire from those unfamiliar with iThreads (or perhaps, over-familiar with the implcitly shared everything of raw kernel threads in other languages).
Their unfamiliarity leads to statements/questions like this from a recent threads thread here (and worse):
I understand that Perl wants to emulate the threads as heavy processes.... I wonder what were the initial motivations to introduce a such exotic thread model at the first place.
Widely misunderstood and characterised as "bad", the explicitly-shared-only memory model is gaining [con(sic)]currency. If you can bear it, read Concurrency in the D Programming Language; Chapter 13. In particular, 13.3 Look, Ma, No (Default) Sharing.
If you want to revive Perl(5)'s fortunes we should be celebrating its unique features; explaining dis-orthogonality; and shouting about the benefits that accrue from them. Not hiding them away like we were ashamed of them.
(Sorry for the rant. I know you are one of the good guys. I just happen to really like Perl. The real, whole, unadulterated Perl that is; not some watered down, easy to digest, apologetic subset of it.)
With the rise and rise of 'Social' network sites: 'Computers are making people easier to use everyday'
Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
"Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority".
In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.