I believe Perl actually is the best language for Unicode support and regular expressions. merlyn worked out a chart of it for all the major languages a few years ago so it may not be true today but I know every new release stays on top of the Unicode Consortium standards so I expect it hasn't changed. I also believe Perl to be the best command line language and the best prototyping language. As far as core language features go, I personally feel Perl is the head of the pack. It is applications and packages in areas of current interest, as mentioned in the OP, where Perl is increasingly in the rear view mirror.