Hadley Wickham gave an excelent presentation earlier this month at Google Tech. I found this talk on http://www.r-statistics.com/2011/06/engineering-data-analysis-with-r-and-ggplot2-a-google-tech-talk-given-by-hadley-wickham/ He focused on domain specific languages and the use of R as the programming language in data analysis.
by operator (ddply)
He also gave an excelent example for a real data set including the R code.
A programming language gives you: reproducibility, automation, communication, but has a learning curve
R gives you: freedom, a community, connectivity, building blocks, but the community can be prickly and it is slow (relative to other languages).
Thoughtful DSLs should make it easir to solve common data analysis problems.