i also like best your "or maybe" technique.
i've seen the pattern your new person does in scripting, not just perl. the more typical case for using it is when there's a big bag of all sorts of variables and/or output from inline system calls. using this pattern you can fairly clearly see everything that gets joined together, and in the right order. in other words, a visual aid. but with all those quotes and commas, it loses some of that. i wouldn't frown upon it.
the hardest line to type correctly is: stty erase ^H