It’s the first Monday of 2012, and though we may not all make resolutions, I imagine many of us are thinking about what we want to do differently this coming year, and what we won’t want to budge on. We’re embracing the idea of a fresh start in some areas and accepting the traditions as a way to motivate ourselves.
So I figured this would be a good word to share the history of today. =) Did you know that “motivation” wasn’t in use until 1873? Pretty late! And even then, it was only used in a literal, physical sense of “causing to move toward action.” The sense of “inner or social stimulus” didn’t come into play until 1904.
I discovered this last year when writing Annapolis and was baffled for a good long minute. My character was claiming that his friend would question his motivations. But if he couldn’t question his “motivations” in 1783, then what was he questioning?
Then I had a “duh” moment–he would be questioning his motives. “Motive” carried that very meaning since the 15th century. Which rather begs the question of why we ever thought we had to add that “-ation” ending to it, doesn’t it?
Which brings me back to one of my favorite quotations–I believe this is from Pascal, though I’d have to look through my old notes to make sure, so if I’m wrong, please correct me. I love this one because it’s basically saying “Don’t be pretentious, dude.” So a fun one to start off our new year . . .
“Think with deep motives–but talk like an ordinary person.”
Happy New Year!
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