Očets is an artificially-constructed language, an experiment in language development and evolution set against an alternative historical timeline. It follows Novegradian as a second major attempt at creating a language on naturalistic grounds that can trace its origins to real-world languages. It is set in the same world as Novegradian, and consequently has been heavily influenced by it.
The creation of Očets involved a much greater amount of creative choices in comparison to Novegradian due to the background chosen for it. It is part of a fictional sister family to the real Yeniseian languages, a nearly extinct and poorly-attested group of languages spoken along the lower stretches of the Yenisei River in Siberia. The only member of the family still alive today is Ket, with a total number of fluent speakers numbering no more than a few hundred. Due to our poor knowledge of the history of the Yeniseian languages, there are many gaps in what we know of their ancestral forms and, in many cases, this required taking quite a few creative liberties. However, I intended to keep a general Yeniseian feel to Očets's structure, while nevertheless keeping in mind that it supposedly has a long history separate from them; the historical background of Očets is outlined in the first section of this grammar, the Background.
With Očets I wanted to try my hand at a strongly agglutinative language that nevertheless was quite irregular, with a high degree of separation between underlying and surface forms. Such features are typical to varying degrees in the other languages of Siberia, including the Yeniseian languages themselves. In contrast to Novegradian, I also wished to work on a language that is not entirely independent, but has been heavily influenced by other languages with greater social prestige, including (from earliest to latest) the Iranian, Turkic, Uralic, and Slavic languages. Siberia has long been a place of frequent contact and areal influences between languages and, given the limited state of our knowledge of Proto-Yeniseian, I have turned to areality as one of the main guiding forces in the formation of the modern language.
I must credit two sources in particular for much of the background on Yeniseian languages that has been incorporated into Očets. First is Stefan Georg 1 , who has published the most thorough English-language grammar of the Ket language that I am aware of, which also incorporates the great deal of new information about the internal structure of the language that has come to light in recent years. Second is Edward Vajda 2 , who has recently put forward a very interesting proposal linking the Yeniseian languages to Tlingit-Athabaskan-Eyak in North America; whether or not his conclusions ultimately are accepted remains to be seen, but I have nevertheless made use of many of his links and reconstructions in order to shape Očets, in particular his proposed sound correspondences.
1) Georg, S. A Descriptive Grammar of Ket. Kent: Global Oriental, 2007. ↑
2) Vajda, E. “A Siberian Link with Na-Dene languages”. Anthropological Papers of the University of Alaska, new series vol. 5 (2010), pp. 33-99. ↑