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Perl is a family of high-level, general-purpose, interpreted, dynamic programming languages. The languages in this family include Perl 5 and Perl 6.

Though Perl is not officially an acronym, there are various backronyms in use, such as: Practical Extraction and Reporting Language.] Perl was originally developed by Larry Wall in 1987 as a general-purpose Unix scripting language to make report processing easier.[7] Since then, it has undergone many changes and revisions. The latest major stable revision of Perl 5 is 5.18, released in May 2013. Perl 6, which began as a redesign of Perl 5 in 2000, eventually evolved into a separate language. Both languages continue to be developed independently by different development teams and liberally borrow ideas from one another.

Perl 5 is the current "default Perl" found on most Linux and UNIX distributions and it's a highly useful and flexible language.

Perl 6 is a completely crafted re-thought of the whole language. http://www.perl6.org