(Note that this is all based on my limited knowledge of Perl 5 and 6 as they are now.)
Syntax, as I recall, will be alterable at the file level (and others), and so the changes will then be to the default syntax, as opposed to the only syntax. Also, I disagree with you about Parrot not being good; I would very much like to be able to, say, write programs in Ruby and be able to access the vast library of Perl modules in CPAN, or write programs in Perl but using a few Python modules. Perl 5 already does use a virtual machine of sorts; it's just not explicitly exposed, which makes it less orthogonal and more difficult to at-get in a standard fashion.
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