|Think about Loose Coupling|
I haven't read any of the other replies, so I may be repeating what others have said. In any case, Perl is not a corporate product with Marketing suits making up flashy ads and chatting up columnists. Perl is a grass roots kind of thing. You almost never hear 'hype' and 'Perl' in the same sentence.
Damian Conway came to Toronto and gave a great talk about Perl 6 a few weeks back. He was here two years ago talking about Perl 6, when it was 'eighteen months away'. It's still eighteen months away, but it seems that the extremely bright people working on it have ironed out many of the language problems, and the Parrot team are also making terrific progress. (As Damian said, we didn't make the 'make PHP run faster on Parrot than natively' bet in time for OSCON, but I think it's coming -- how cool is that going to be?)
Perl is not a fading star .. I see a long period where Perl 5.6 and 5.8 scripts co-exist with Perl 6 scripts. This funky language that I picked up on a whim in 1998 has now employed me for 6 years; the Perl community continues to grow; local Perl Mongers groups, Perl Monks and YAPC continue to thrive.
If you think that Perl os really only good for text processing, then I have to disgree -- that might have been its main strength years and years ago, but it truly is a Swiss Army chainsaw now. Like the Linux kernel and the GNU command line utilities, Perl has CPAN to keep it strong and vibrant.
I can't wait for the future .. because the future includes Perl!
Alex / talexb / Toronto
"Groklaw is the open-source mentality applied to legal research" ~ Linus Torvalds