The canine therapist

Posted by a Facebook foaf today, this Bizarro from 10/14/10:

(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 5 in this strip — see this Page.)

The Psychiatrist meme, with a talking dog as a bonus. Plus, in my title, a nominal with the pseudo-adjective canineand it’s ambiguous.

Dan Piraro is fond of the Psychiatrist meme. This one combines the world of therapy with the world of dogs: the speaker is both a patient in the therapy world and a pet in the dog world (where pet dogs aren’t allowed on couches).

Then, canine therapist, a nominal with the Adj canine as first element — but canine functioning semantically here essentially like the N dog of dog therapist; canine here is a “pseudo-adjective”.

Entertaining as that is, canine therapist and dog therapist are both (at least) two-ways ambiguous, and in parallel ways: ‘therapist for dogs’ (as in the cartoon) and ‘therapist who is a dog’ (appropriate for a therapy session with the dog and patient switched in their roles — and, obviously, with different speech from the patient, say “I was a bit hesitant when they advised me to see a more empathetic therapist”).

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