Non sequitur (literary device)
A non sequitur (//; Latin for It does not follow) is a conversational and literary device, often used for comedic purposes. It is something said that, because of its apparent lack of meaning relative to what preceded it, seems absurd to the point of being humorous or confusing.
This use of the term is distinct from the non sequitur in logic, where it is a fallacy.
Literally, the expression is Latin for "it does not follow." It comes from the words "non" meaning not, and the deponent verb sequor, sequi, secutus sum meaning 'to follow,' from which we have sequence and second. (Deponent verbs have passive forms but active meanings.)
"A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle" - Irina Dunn
A non sequitur can denote an abrupt, illogical, unexpected or absurd turn of plot or dialogue not normally associated with or appropriate to that preceding it. A non sequitur joke has no explanation, but it reflects the idiosyncrasies, mental frames and alternative world of the particular comic persona.
The non sequitur can be understood as the converse of cliché. Traditional comedy and drama can depend on the ritualization and predictability of human emotional experiences, where the Theatre of the Absurd uses disjunction and unpredictability. The use of non sequitur in humor can be deliberate or unintentional.
- The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. Oxford University Press, 2009.
- Merriam Webster's Online Dictionary. http://mw1.m-w.com/dictionary/non%20sequitur
- Chambers, Robert (2010) Parody: The Art That Plays With Art, p.75 quote:
Along with a rhythmic pattern, these jokes, however absurd they may be, build dual frames of reference, if not alternative worlds entirely reflecting the idiosyncrasies of the individual stand-up artist.
|Look up non sequitur in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- The Comprehension of Humorous Materials by Adolescents with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's Syndrome - "Non sequitur endings or incorrect endings that are unrelated to the content of the joke were preferred by adults with high-functioning autism"
- Getting it: human event-related brain response to jokes in good and poor comprehenders - "When asked to pick the punch-line of a joke from an array of choices, including straightforward endings, non-sequitur endings, and the correct punch-line, RHD patients erred by picking non-sequitur endings, indicating that they know surprise is necessary"