It was in October 2021 that I announced the creation of The Tolkien Club. At that time I expressed my hesitation to name the society “The Tolkien Club,” for I knew we would not be reading much of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works, but rather focusing on ancient mythology (albeit of the kind that Tolkien read). So I opened the floor to my readers for ideas and stoked the flames beneath my own cauldron of inspiration in hope of brewing something more appropriate. To the great advantage of this, I was at the time studying Anglo-Saxon literature and consequently reading plenty of Old English poetry. Thus it was that the word eardstapa fell before my eyes one afternoon. Eardstapa means “earth-stepper” but is commonly translated “wanderer.”
If there are earth-steppers, thought I, I wonder if there are word-steppers—readers, wanderers through worlds of words.
I embarked, therefore, on the barge of research. With little difficulty I found the Old English translation for word (I already knew stapa “stepper”). Finding the plural form of stapa proved more difficult. In the end, I chose to retain the Modern English custom of adding an s to the end, rather than the form dictated by the Old English declension, which added an n. Thus, wordstapas instead of wordstapan. My conscience was somewhat troubled by this, but I took consolation in the fact that Tolkien himself modernized Old English words to fit more comfortably into Modern English methods of spelling and pronunciation.
So it is that The Wordstapas settle down twice per month to tramp though poetry and ancient lore with the eardstapan of old.
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