I don't doubt you, and I appreciate the pointer to the Dictionary entry. But it's weird. No less so by the choice to explain it away as "keyword", a sort of shorthand that winks to the reader as "We don't really understand how this fits into the language, so we're using the most generic term we have", handling a token ambiguity by assigning it a categorical ambiguity.
This discussion prompted me to wonder how the HC team described it. In HyperTalk 2.2: The Book they have no parenthetic form described in the main text*, only "the target" and "target", both handled under one entry categorized as a function.
Most of the entry is about "the target", and the only thing written there about "target" is:
Given the oddity of the "target" form, I'd wager it might have been a bug that got left in and eventually rationalized for its utility.If the target is a field or a button, the special form target return the contents of the field or button.
I can imagine an internal debate about whether "the target" should return the object name or the object contents, not entirely wacky when we consider how hard they worked to make accessing field contents feel like natural language. So maybe both forms were implemented for testing, the shorter form a temporary placeholder while they were deciding what to do. When they finally decided to make "the target" uniformly return the object name rather than the contents, perhaps they just forgot to back out "target", and when discovered they just documented it with a one-liner tucked away in the entry for "the target" and moved on hoping no one would think too hard about it.
But here we are. I can't not think about it. Because it's weird. Maybe weird enough to have achieved a closer match to natural language than even they'd intended, with all the gotchas, "sometimes" rules, and long-forgotten etymology of English.
* There is a footnote at the end of the entry which says: "In versions before 2.0, you can also use the form target(). However, because of a bug, the form target() causes an error when the target is a field."