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I used the terms "spatial contiguity" to emphasise the relation between two objects as opposed to synchronism, i.e. chronological contiguity. I then questioned myself whether or not that would constitute a pleonasm.

What do you think?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

If you talking about both space and time in the same passage then it sounds ok. You're using 'contiguity' with the spatial and temporal modifiers to emphasize the difference.

Otherwise if you're just talking about one kind or the other, you'd use just 'contiguity' for space and 'continuity' for time (or the respective adjectives).

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I like your answer, though i doubting whether continuity is the chronological equivalent of contiguity. A tunnel is a space continuum too. I think contiguity denotes juxtaposition. Anyway the first part of your response answers my question I think. – Benjamin Nov 1 '11 at 12:33
Yes, I sense that 'continuity' might not be the perfect parallel for time. Maybe 'successive'? – Mitch Nov 1 '11 at 12:36
It's only a convention that we normally use contiguous in spatial contexts, and continuous in temporal ones. And whilst a continuous line is often used "metaphorically" (of a ruling dynasty, for example), it usually refers to an unbroken succession in one spatial dimension. The distinction between the two words isn't that clear-cut, so as you say, there's no reason OP shouldn't explicitly clarify his intended meaning in context. – FumbleFingers Nov 1 '11 at 13:09
@FumbleFIngers: did you mean "in one temporal dimension"? – Mitch Nov 1 '11 at 13:12
@Mitch: No, I meant that usually a "continuous line" is just that - a line in one spatial dimension (or two, if it's not straight). But normally, "continuous" in other contexts refers to in the temporal dimension. Mind you, I usually think of "continuum" in the context of space-time continuum, where it's four-dimensional. – FumbleFingers Nov 1 '11 at 14:16

The differentiation between contiguity and continuity is that in the first case you are referring to the adjacency of two distinct entities. In the second you are referring to the extension (in time or space) of a single entity. So whether you really needed to specify 'spatial' would depend on the context. It might or might not be necessary or helpful to include it.

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