I think it's important to note that while it may be possible to apply prior programming knowledge to Perl and even come up with some 'working' code without ever learning the basics, it certainly wouldn't be reasonable to advise beginners to do so. Additionally, I can't think of any case where it could be stated that someone who disregards the basics and dives head first into the code armed only with prior programming experience would be 'qualified' to write Perl. I once built and installed a kitchen counter (badly) and i wouldn't presume to be a qualified carpenter.
When I said that 'Prior experience in programming languages may be very helpful when learning a new language' I meant the emphasis to be on 'learning'. 'Learning Perl' contrasts sharply with 'Using Perl to pound a few nails'.
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