I think the main thing that people look for in a modern "alternative" language is convenience and clarity.
Some specific possibilities:
And the fun part, some anti-features:
And one more thing: I think there's the most available space around asynchronous-by-default. Play with an async runtime once you're up and running. There's potential there I haven't seen anyone fully hit.
REPL is a good shout. That will definitely go hand-in-hand with developing the language at the beginning.
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