Friday, January 7, 2011


I saw those words on the sign in front of a local liberal church, and was momentarily confused about how to parse them correctly.
Analysis below the fold:

The interpretation which came to mind immediately was that "hate" was a verb and "boomerangs" a plural noun, making the whole construction a verb phrase:
Given the context, the inscription would most likely be meant as an imperative sentence with "you" as the understood subject. Thus, a paraphrase of the whole would be: "We, the writers of this sign, hereby command you, the reader(s) of this sign, to despise the rebounding wooden weapons invented by the Australian Aborigines". A fairly bizarre message, and not very liberal-minded either.

But there's a more sensible interpretation-- "Hate boomerangs" is a complete declarative sentence, with "hate" as the subject:
This interpretation could be paraphrased as: "The feeling of hate rebounds, in the manner of a boomerang, upon the haters"-- a much saner and more admirable sentiment.

(Trees drawn with phpSyntaxTree.)


  1. Nicely parsed, and I'm sure your second interpretation is the correct one. It sounds karmic to me anyway.

  2. I agree with Anne. Perfectly parsed!