But these irritations are only apparent once you're inside the PHP conversion funnel. And, as I have observed time and again as a pro PHP developer, once a PHP programmer knows ten lines worth of PHP it is easier for them to struggle through the eleventh line than to start over with another system.
The entrance to the funnel matters, a lot! Everyone passes through it, and the bulk of your user base will never even leave it. That's my theory of PHP's apparently inexplicable success. (It also explains a lot about every other platform's userbase, by the way.)
And it's not as if one can't master PHP to the point that one could build, say, Facebook: It's empirically evident that one can build Facebook, WordPress, and Drupal in PHP. And, though PHP eventually turns into one gotcha after another - almost immediately, actually; the array() semantics are an absolute horror show - at every single step of the PHP experience there are ten people stuck on that step along with you, and you're all being coaxed ahead live, on the internet by the ten people who are stuck one step above you. So it eventually works out, at least as well as any good hack does, and trying to pretend otherwise doesn't fool anyone. You can try to tell people that PHP can't possibly fly, like the scientists in the urban legend who allegedly tried to claim that the bumblebee can't fly, and they'll smile at you and go back to struggling with PHP.
The question implicit in your comment is: Could we design a system that offers the ease of accessibility of the first few steps of a PHP programmer's career but, as one climbs the learning curve, eventually blossoms into Python or Ruby or even Lisp? I wish I knew. My best guess as of this morning is that a demigod could design such a system, but it's very difficult for mortal humans to do so, because once you know how to program it's hard to avoid overdesigning, putting in things that will eventually be useful in year two but are discouraging in year zero. We make terrible pedagogical mistakes, like turning everything into an object. (Does your ORM seem intuitive to you? That is why PHP is beating your system in the marketplace.)