I recently had a friend tell me
"see perl was never designed to be fast"
- Is that true?
The relevant piece of information I can find is this from Wikipedia:
The language is intended to be practical (easy to use, efficient, complete) rather than beautiful (tiny, elegant, minimal).
But it doesn't directly talk about speed. I think that with all the text processing that it needs to do, speed of execution really matters for a language like Perl. And with all the weird syntax, elegance was never an objective, I agree.
- Was high speed of execution one of the design objectives of Perl?
Perl has always aimed toward practicality, not anything (even close to) some sort of ivory tower purity, where a few goals are given absolute priority, and others are ignored (completely or nearly so).
As such, I think it's reasonable to say that maintaining a reasonable speed of execution has always been seen as important for Perl, but there are other factors (especially things like flexibility and ease of use) that are generally more important, so if a choice has to be made between one of them and speed of execution, the other factor will generally win unless the effect on execution speed is really serious.