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!