On the other hand, Perl makes an excellent first language for people who aren't going to be career programmers: it's easy to get a lot done with only a little knowledge, which means less lag time between starting to program and solving your problems.
Thanks for making this distinction. I run a very small website that has to search a database of texts for its output, and then put that into an encoding that the user of the site can choose (there are different ASCII transcription schemes available for Ancient Greek that are alternatives when unicode support is not available).
Perl enabled me to get this site up and running in a very short time. I'll never be a career programmer ("It is ... too late for me." -DV), but I'm very glad that Perl was out there. I've made a lot of stupid programming mistakes to begin with, but I'm learning, and I'm still interested. That's more than I can say about trying to learn Z-80 assembly language when I was 10. That put me off programming for a couple of decades.
--Your punctuation skills are insufficient!