In a new post Michael Kimsal does a good job comparing the rise of PHP5 (and what it brought with it) to his language of choice these days - Groovy.
I remember when PHP5 first came out having 'discussions' with a number of people who insisted that PHP5 was way better than 4. [...] Basically, intentions were made clearer with things like "public protected private" (PPP),but I have not yet seen any web project get done faster or dare I say even much *better* due to those sorts of things. [...] This isn't specifically saying PPP is necessarily bad, but that PHP could have addressed the issue in a fashion more suitable to dynamic languages. Keep reading for an example.
His comparison is to how Groovy handles properties in a class - everything is private unless declared otherwise. This could be ported (somewhat) over to PHP and would eliminate the need to search&replace all over the code for the right variables.