Perhaps you've seen a proposal to reboot PHP. How telling that its explanation of new features focuses on syntax issues.
I don't know if phpreboot is doomed. I do know that PHP isn't doomed, at least not because it has awful syntax (it does) or baffling feature inconsistencies (it does) or lends itself to awful code (it does).
Programmers and techies have a theory that the best product will win, even though we all know this is a silly theory. To start, we don't all agree on what's best. Some people like mixing code with HTML. Other people have good taste. Some people like semicolons and sigils. Other people like their code to look like a big homogenous mishmash of runon sentences. The amount of which this matters as a general explanation for the whole set of potential programming language adoptees is slim, because aesthetics matter much, much less to techies than we want to admit. (How strange that we complain about slick marketers in suits nattering on about presentation, then argue over the placement of braces and the presence or absence of parentheses on method calls.)
The JFDI theory of language adoption is this: the primary concern of a novice adopting a programming language is the distance between zero and just getting something done.
For PHP, that's dumping new tag in the existing HTML file you already know how to write and upload.
For Perl CGI programs, that's dumping a slightly-better-than-shell script in a directory on the server where you already know how to create an HTML file.
The semi-obvious corollary to the JFDI Theory is the Nomad Theory of Language Unadoption: the people to whom semicolons and pseudo-DSLs and sigils are Vitally Important Issues and Markers of Good Taste and Reasons Your 20 Year Old Language Family will Soon be Irrelevant will move on en masse to something else in six to eighteen months anyway, so why bother pleasing them anyhow?
In other words, the primary driver of the possibility of large-scale adoption of a new language or an existing language in a new niche is the ease of which regular people can get something done.
That's why projects like ActiveState's PPM repository—much improved over a couple of years ago—and Strawberry Perl and Perlbrew and Plack and cpanminus and hopefully Carton are important to Perl. Continuing to ease the onramp to Perl and the CPAN can help attract and retain new users.