Non sequitur (literary device)
A non sequitur (English pronunciation: //; Classical Latin: [noːn ˈsɛkᶣɪtʊr] "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.
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,' thus producing sequence and second. (Deponent verbs have passive forms but active meanings.)
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. Examples of non sequiturs are many. 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. Peter Lang Publishers. p. 75. ISBN 978-1433108693. Retrieved 2014-09-17.
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.
- Sharon Gerson (2013). e-Study Guide for: Technical Communication: Process and Product (6th ed.). Content Technologies. ISBN 9781467272551.
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- 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"