Syntax hardly trumps usefulness.
Of course, one could confer upon it that imaginary degree of importance, but the true measure of a programming language is its usefulness, speed, and level of control offered. As long as a syntax is purposeful and not tedious, it is fine and hardly a point to frown on, for any language. What syntax does do, apart from enable programmers to understand each others' code, is expose people's ability/inability to adapt to necessary arbitrary conventions. Some languages have inefficient, anti-intuitive, unnecessarily verbose jargon/naming conventions. This is not so with AutoHotkey, and that is intentional, and a good thing. Now with syntax, Ahk is intended to be compatible with its predecessor, and that is fine and good. If you wish to abandon compatibility for whatever reason, just keep making a new language from some existing one and add to the plethora already existing. I do not care for such trends. You could also do what MS did, making VC 6,7,8 incompatible. That's perfectly fine if you think that kind of thing is efficient (it is not).
Perhaps what would be best is if syntax itself becomes modular... that would be another breakthrough triumph of AutoHotkey. It requires much code re-design, however.
Modularity and dynamic commands would make AutoHotkey unbeatable. Modularity will eventually occur, as i predicted in AHK after 10 years
Now as for whether AutoHotkey is a "real" programming language... It can be used to program, so the answer is yes. Whether it is a formal or informal language is a rather moot debate. Also the poll question
Do you think people would use it as a programming language?
reveals that those who are overly strict with syntax, for some reason relax their language standards when answering a poll question. The answer to the poll question is in the affirmative, since Ahk is already being used as a programming language. This just goes to show that people can themselves be as inconsistent as supposedly some language they are criticizing. Furthermore, consider any human language. Should it be said that it is not a language since it could be used for poetry? or that understanding can still be achieved without capitalization... or that understanding can still be achieved without perfect spelling. This simply demonstrates that consistency standards for syntax, grammar, etc. can be taken to an extreme, and denigrating a language on this one point alone, lacks proper perspective.
EDIT: As Chris has already pointed out, if you don't like the command-style syntax, it can be replaced by using Functions. The barrier in this particular case is inverse to the creativity of the programmer. Functions can be used to reduce many lines of code to just a few, or even one line, apart from the auto-execute settings.