In real life, you may consider it as a synonym. But Duo prefers that we use words that are similar or close from one language to the other, every time it is possible.
However, "encourager" can be just about shouting "go go go!".
Motivating someone is giving him/her powerful levers and reasons to give his/her best.
Sitesurf, there is an important matter of nuance here. In English we almost never talk of one person directly motivating another. It comes across as too aggressive and too paternalistic. Instead we talk of encouraging others because the implication in using that word is one more of 'carrot' than 'stick'.
We still use motivate in a sense of self-motivation and of outside factors motivating us, e.g. 'the cold weather will motivate me to get the insulation on the house completed'. But again, one person motivating another would be seen as possibly unwanted interference.
The native English speaker, on reading the French sentence and understanding it but also appreciating the difference in nuance I have outlined above, will very naturally choose to use the word encourage here instead of the more literal translation. And should be allowed to do so.
The fact that motivating people could be aggressive or paternalistic is complete surprise to me.
I have heard that verb used very often when it comes to staff or troops management and even in education and I have found lots of examples, like:
It's very common for one person to motivate another. My grandfather highly motivated me to become good at math. I don't know where you got the idea that one person "motivating" another isn't correct terminology. After all, the very definition of "motivate" is:
provide (someone) with a motive for doing something.
stimulate (someone's) interest in or enthusiasm for doing something.
On the other hand, "encourage" is defined as this:
give support, confidence, or hope to (someone).
give support and advice to (someone) so that they will do or continue to do something.
You said that "motivate" comes across as paternalistic, but I think "encourage" does more so.
I can sympathise with your point and would like to add. It seems to me the nuance of the word "motivate" depends on your personal experience, and perhaps ego as well. To be motivated suggests you need motivating, implying laziness... i think thats the nuance there... i also disagree with your carrot and stick analogy with regards to motivate and encourage. My thoughts :)
I completely agree with you in regards to the aggressive nuance of 'motivate', but I don't think it's a matter of translation. I think the verb 'motivate' - in English and Italian for sure, I don't know about other languages - has gained this nuance in the last 10, maybe 15 years because of its heavy use in business and sports environments, i.e. in highly competitive environments. There is something hypocritical and fake that is perceived in business 'motivational speeches' for example, because quite often they're not used in their original meaning, but only as a way to hype up people while asking them to perform very difficult or impossible tasks. In Italian even more so as it is now perceived as vain business jargon directly translated from the American business use. You use 'encourage' if it comes from the heart, 'motivate' if it is about something more practical that has to be achieved or if you want to have something done by your inferiors in an organisation. These are the nuances that are perceived at this moment in time, I think. Of course if I read it in a piece of literature the context might allow me to understand it in the original meaning!
Motivate means to give someone a reason to do something (a motive), while encourage means to give them support (or courage) in it. They're very similar but you could say that showing support, cheering, being there for someone, etc, is encouraging, while giving them a reason (punishment for failure, reward for victory, "Do this and I'll be happy", etc) is motivating. In real life they are close enough to be interchangeable in most cases.
Thanks for your reply, but I'm afraid I still don't get it. Why can't a waiter be motivated? (Supposing the speaker was the owner of a cafe - he might well want to motivate his waiters, mightn't he?) And why is the meaning rude? (do you mean vulgar or discourteous)? I understand that nuance of language can be/will be lost on people who are just learning to speak it, so if you tell me it's rude I'll take your word for it. But then why isn't it rude when applied to 'my boy'?
I'll grant you that you can make a case for the cafe owner scenario, but the more important point is that garçon used to refer to a (male, usually young and low rank) waiter is something that is dying out as a rude and discourteous thing to say. You're literally calling them "boy" and all that implies about their status. As far as I know, Duolingo never accepts waiter as a proper translation for garçon, probably to discourage it. For your own purposes, use serveur instead when you need to talk about a waiter. Use "Monsieur/Madame/etc." when addressing them.
I thought garçon is only used for a boy (in general) and fils for son (as offspring). My dictionary says "garçon = male child, bachelor, waiter" and "fils = someones son". Mon garçon looks really weird, and I don't quite understand what it or the translation is supposed to mean, my boy just sounds equally weird to me.
The verb "to motivate", (at least in American English), has come to imply coercion, mental or physical. Soldiers in basic training (mentioned in the thread), are a good example of people being "motivated". It implies the imposition of another person's will, so it can sound presumptuous or pompous in a more academic context, or with reference to children. It is certainly condescending, even among adults. (Think Shia LaBeouf's "motivational" YouTube rant). But this implication of coercion is apparently not present in the French verb, "motiver" which means something closer to "encourage". Thanks, guys.
As for the second half of the sentence, why apply the pronoun "my" to "boy"? In English, I've never referred to a (human) male as "my boy", so I'm curious as to what the actual thought behind the sentence was, in French. Under what circumstances would a boy be considered "mon garcon"? If he were a student of mine? A relative?
My dictionary gives 'justify' as the first of two meanings for 'motiver'. It would not be uncommon for a parent to attempt to justify say a juvenile's aberrant behaviour. Sadly, Duo didn't like my offering. EDIT My source is Collins-Le Robert - paid for. BTW I have never ever used the Duo hints.
This is what my dictionary says:
[inciter à agir] to spur on (separable), to motivate
[causer] to be the reason for
qu'est-ce qui a motivé votre retard ? what's the reason for your being late ?
[justifier] to justify, to explain
motiver un refus to give grounds for a refusal