Ants! Eeyem, eesuukim, moochom, intok ho’ovoem!

Unlike in many other languages, there is no single word in Hiaki that translates to “ant” or “ants”. In Hiaki, each different ant species is distinct enough to merit its own name, so if you want to talk about ants in Hiaki, you’ll have to know the right word for the type of ant.

Eeyem – Red ants
These ants are known for their large anteriors and hostile temperament. Whereas some ants will only bite you if you provoke them, eeyem will bite you on sight.

Eesuukim – Sugar ants
These very tiny ants are known for getting into people’s houses and scavenging for food sources like crumbs. They won’t bite you or cause you any trouble, unless you’re troubled by having single-file lines of ants crawling all over your house.

Moochom – Leaf-cutter ants
These black ants do their work at night. They collect leaves and leaf clippings to bring back to their nest, and they sometimes can be a problem for gardeners. If you notice that your plants start to shrivel up for no apparent reason, you may be dealing with moochom. They’ll sometimes attack and eat the roots of plants, and by doing this they can kill an entire tree within a month. Interestingly enough, moochom is an irregular plural, as its singular form is mochomo and not *moocho.

Ho’ovo’em – Red and black ants
These small ants come in two colors: red and black. While they’re not as aggressive as eeye, they’ll still bite you under certain circumstances. They’re known to crawl up people’s feet and legs, so if they make it halfway up your leg and then get stuck or lost, they’ll start to bite. Like eesuukim, ho’ovo’e will sometimes crawl into your house and look for food scraps to carry back to their colony.

While there isn’t a single word that just translates to “ant”, all ants are respected by the Hiaki. Some Hiakis will intentionally leave crumbs on the floor and then sweep them in the direction of the doorway so that ants can crawl in at night and take them back to their homes. Ants are also analogized to the Hiaki and Surem (the ancestors of the Hiaki) because they are very hardworking and are constantly trying to provide for their families, so killing ants is frowned upon. If you’re caught in the act, you might hear someone yell “don’t kill them, they’re Hiakis!”.


  1. Thank you Dr. Harley and company. I am now teaching math at a Tucson-based high school and I am reminded how special we are to live in such a linguistically diverse home.

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