“at least two or three hours per week”

Randal Schwartz, in his interview with Leo Laporte and Chris DiBona on FLOSS #9 (way before Randal was ever the host of the same show), says around the 9:20 mark that “Perl is meant for people who use the language at least two or three hours per week”.

This remark was highlighted by John D. Cook in Three-hour-a-week language. I found an even better thought in the comments. rdm says it’s more about knowing what to look for:

I have enough of a perl vocabulary that I know how to perform relevant searches when I am reaching for a concept. Python? Not so much…

That doesn’t have much to do with the language, really. If you spend a couple of hours each week using a language, reading the docs, and looking for answers, you gain experience and knowledge about the process making it slightly easier the next time. I’m not a great programmer, but I’m a pretty good answer finder. That can make up for a lack of talent.

In my Learning Perl classes, I tell people they aren’t going to learn Perl in a week. I can make them aware of things, but they need to practice. Even though we do exercises in the class, thinking about Perl all day for four days can melt anyone’s brain. Take that three (or more) hours a week for half a year and you’ll probably get passably good.

I got used to Perl by doing it almost every day all day for two years, but then I had to relearn it when Randal trained me to be a Perl trainer. I actually learned more by answering the random questions that people had. That was either students in classes or conversations on usenet. Now that could be Stackoverflow. You create some common set of problems for yourself, but by reading the problems from many people, you get to learn things from problems you wouldn’t make yourself. That’s where the gold is.