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(kĕ`tyə), river, c.845 mi (1,360 km) long, W central Siberian Russia. It rises in central Siberia, just N of Krasnoyarsk, and flows NW and W into the Ob. The Ket is navigable c.410 mi (660 km). It is connected with the Kas (a tributary of the Yenisei) by the Ob-Yenisei canal system.



(self-designation, Ket, literally “man,” “person”; old name, Eniseian Ostyaks or Eniseians), a people living in the region of the middle and lower course of the Enisei River (Krasnoiarsk Krai, RSFSR). They number 1,200 persons (1970, census). Most of them speak Ket and Russian.

The Ket are descendants of ancient hunting and fishing tribes of the Enisei taiga, who adopted the language and certain cultural traits of southern Siberian Ket-speaking tribes. They became part of the Russian state in the 17th century. They engaged in hunting and fishing; the northern Ket also took up reindeer breeding in the 18th and 19th centuries. In the Soviet period all of the Ket have changed over to a settled way of life and joined together in kolkhozes, where they are engaging in new activities, such as gardening, dairy livestock breeding, and fur farming, in addition to their traditional pursuits.


Dolgikh, B. O. Kety. Irkutsk-Moscow, 1934.
Narody Sibiri. Moscow-Leningrad, 1956.
Alekseenko, E. A. Kety: Istoriko-etnograficheskie ocherki. Leningrad, 1967.



(in its upper course, the Bol’shaia Ket’), a river in the Krasnoiarsk Krai and the Tomsk Oblast, RSFSR. It is a right tributary of the Ob’ River. Length, 1,621 km; basin area, 94,200 sq km.

The Ket’ rises in the swamps of the Ob’-Enisei watershed and flows through the Western Siberian Plain. Above its confluence with the Orlovka River it is very sinuous; below this point it breaks up into numerous streams, which have many sandbars and often dry up during low-water periods. The Ket’ is connected to the Ob’ by two branches—the Togur (below the city of Kolpashevo) and the Narym (which flows along the Ob’ to the populated area of Narym). The mean flow rate at a distance of 236 km from the river’s mouth is approximately 502 cu m per sec. There is a high water period from May through August. The river freezes in late October or early November and thaws in late April or early May.

The principal tributaries of the Ket’ are the Sochur, Orlovka, and Lisitsa from the right and the Malaia Ket’, Mendel’, Elovaia, and Chachamga from the left. The Pikovka and the Paidugina empty into the Narym branch. The Ket’ is navigable as far as the settlement of Ust’-Ozernoe. In the late 19th century the Ob’-Enisei waterway was built, connecting the Lomovataia River (a tributary of the Ket’) with the Enisei through the Kas River. Because the waterway was rarely used, it was closed in 1917.



(also called Enisei-Ostyak), the last surviving representative of the Eniseian language family, which, according to the evidence of hydronymics, had previously spread as far as the southern part of Western Siberia.

Ket belongs to the Ket-Pumpokol’ subgroup, which differs from the extinct southern Arin-Assan-Kott subgroup that is known from 18th- and 19th-century records. It is spoken by about 900 persons (1970, census) in Turukhan and Baikit raions, Krasnoiarsk Krai, RSFSR. The two main dialects, Imbat (northern) and Sym, or lug (spoken by fewer than ten persons), have diverged so greatly that they can be regarded as different languages.

Ket phonology is characterized by the typologically rare combination of a hard-soft consonant opposition and tonal differences (up to five tones in various subdialects). The noun has a basic case form (subject and direct object) and a system of secondarily developed cases with spatial meanings. In nouns a distinction is made between an inanimate class and the animate classes (masculine and feminine). Most grammatical meanings are conveyed in the verb by means of prefixes and infixes (sometimes suffixes); incorporation is widely developed. A writing system for Ket was developed in 1934 by the Soviet scholar N. K. Karger.


Dul’zon, A. P. Ketskii iazyk. Tomsk, 1968.
Kreinovich, E. A. “Ketskii iazyk.” In the collection Iazyki narodov SSSR, vol. 5. Leningrad, 1968.
Kreinovich, E. A. Glagol ketskogo iazyka. Leningrad, 1968.
Toporov, V. N. “Bibliografiia po ketskomu iazyku.” In Ketskii sbornik. Moscow, 1969.
Castrén, M. A. Versuch einer jenissei-ostjakischen und kottischen Sprachlehre nebst Wörterverzeichnissen aus den genannten Sprachen. St. Petersburg, 1858.