Perl is an excellent first language.
My primary reason for this is that you can benifit from PERL
nearly instantly. Writing simple utility scripts that move
files around, search for meaningful bits of data on your HD,
and may other manual processes are easily converted to PERL.
Abigail-II does have a point. PERL is a very powerful language,
and new comers should be very wary of using it. If you are going
to try anything that effects your system, in other words, things
that would change something already in use on your system, you
should back everything up, use strict, use -w, and test the
H - E - double hockey sticks out of it before using it for real.
However, this is another advantage of PERL. It is very east to test
one piece at a time. Since you don't have to write, error-check, and
compile you programs before testing them you can proceed one step at
a time. This makes PERL an ideal language for new comers.
Personally, I was turned off by Pascal and C/C++ because in order to get
much use from it you had to learn a great deal FIRST. I am not that
patient. With PERL I was able that helped my out, on my job and at home,
within one hour of starting "Learning PERL" by O'Reiley.