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So, does anyone want to attempt an explanation as to why класть—положить are a pair.

I know that textbooks often state that there are pairs that are "just", for no good reason different, e.g., говорить—сказать/ брать—взять.

But if you look at the history of the words, than it's not actually true what the authors say. In fact, сказывать is the old imperfective of сказать and взимать is the old imperfective of взять.

So, my question is: what pair-shift happened that caused класть—положить? I know that ложить exists (at least colloquially), and кладывать seems to exist on wikislovar.

Anyway, help!)))

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    Don't quote me on this, but I think the класть-положить suppletivism is pan-Slavic, and thus older than Russian as a separate language, much like the irregular past tense of идти. – Nikolay Ershov Feb 4 '16 at 6:09
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Originally these verbs were different (not sure, whether it was in Old Russian, or in proto-Slavic). "Класть" meant "to put inside" (cf. Клад), while "Ложить" meant "to lay on the surface" (cf. Ложе).

But nowadays this difference is completely lost, and we have класть as imperfective, and prefixed forms, such as положить as perfective. You shouldn't say покласть or ложить anymore. That's it.

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Most widely known language mistakes among native speakers are "ложить" and "зво́нит" (instead of "звони́т"). For example

Тут ударила мне кровь в голову. — Ложи, — говорю, — взад! А она испужалась.

Рассказ Зощенко "Аристократка" (1923).

In this classic text, saying "ложи́" immidiately indicates education level of the speaker. As far as I know, there is no exact reason for word "ложить" become that inacceptable in imperfect form, but it is possible that "Аристократка" publication and popularity is a reason.

The word "накласть" instead of "положить" does not exist "oficially", though it could be used, usually referring to the process of defecation. "Он пришёл торговать, наклал на прилавок вещей" - implies that the stuff does not have any value.

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  • "перекласть" also exists, at least colloquially. – VCH250 Feb 4 '16 at 6:15
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    Словарь Даля (XIX) and Словарь Ушакова (1940) has this form. Newer academic dictionaries does not. And I have heard "перекласть" only when talking about bricks ("кирпичная кладка"). – Nadia Solovyeva Feb 4 '16 at 6:21

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