|Keep It Simple, Stupid|
Exactly what makes you think and even say moving from Perl to PHP is easy? It's very, very hard to un-learn concise programming and go back to medieval programming times. And converting existing code is even harder.
I wasn't speaking in the context of 'leave Perl behind and go to PHP'... I was speaking in the context the original poster was asking...
Unlike a lot of folks here, I'm not a person that works with Perl every day... I don't write a *lot* of Perl a year... I write enough that I consider it my favorite language now, but I'm nowhere near Saint-worthy... As a result, my understanding of a lot of the things you mention is limited... and my basis for comparison of the two is viewed through the eyes of someone who isn't an expert in either language, but who found the syntax of the two so similar that he was able to do some PHP work after only a few hours, mostly because I had been working in Perl for 3 years.
I know I said I'd been writing code for 19+ years, and that's true... The first 12 years of that were BBX (Business Basic Extended) and COBOL... PL/SQL for the last 7, and Perl during the last three... Should, I hope, explain my scope of understanding better.
I'm not suggesting, in any way, that it's comparable in scope or maturity, because it isn't... I'm just asserting that it isn't that hard to pick up and work with, ie... countermanding the OP's speculation that somehow Java prepared you better to learn other languages, and Perl didn't.
But I'll gladly concede your points to someone with more knowledge on the differences in the two languages...