I ended up chatting with a guy named Philip, who has apparently been coding in C for 20 years, has a vast library here, thinks C is the easiest language around, and has general disdain for anything that isn't compiled into bytecode. He especially didn't like Perl.
One of the reasons he didn't like Perl is the confusion he felt it created with regards to the terms "hash" and "associative array". His claim was that they're really two different things, although I could never get him to explain what exactly the difference was.
So, one of my goals for the week is to find out exactly what the difference is.