On Wed, 6 Jun 2007 10:52:38 +0200, Benct Philip Jonsson <[log in to unmask]>

>If you were to reference only one participant on the verb in
>a direct-inverse language (WP: <>),
>which of the following would you prefer to reference?
>  (1) the participant which is higher on the nominal
>      hierarchy,
>  (2) the participant which is lower in the nominal
>      hierarchy,
>  (3) the participant which is the topic,
>  (4) the participant which is the comment.

Probably (1), but see Wunderlich's article "Towards a structural typology of
verb classes" at 

Sec 4.2 discusses the salience-type marking of Arizona Tewa which has a
single marker on the verb, but has six sets of person markers, which I think
is a very neat solution (though not necessarily a true inverse system):

a. STAT: encodes the argument of an intransitive verb
b. REFL: identifies agent and patient of a transitive verb
c. POSS: encodes a possessor related to the subject of an intransitive verb
d. BEN: encodes a beneficiary argument of a transitive verb
e. AGT: encodes the agent of a transitive verb
f. PAT: encodes the patient of a transitive verb

quoting from the section to give examples of how this system works -

"STAT and REFL are unproblematic because intransitives and reflexive 
transitives (such as ‘he washes (himself)’) only have one argument to 
be realized. POSS adds an argument to an intransitive verb (52a), while 
BEN adds an argument to a transitive verb (without any further marking 
of the verb) – these arguments count as the most salient ones because 
they mostly refer to a human person and are often in the focus of 
predication. AGT and PAT encode the person which is more salient, 
see (52b-f). 1st and 2nd person are more salient than the 3rd person, 
and ‘these girls’ in (52f) is more salient than ‘those boys’ because of the 
proximate-distal contrast.

With a PAT marking, the respective less salient agent receives an oblique 
marking (52c,e,f), which resembles the obviative marking of Cree (see 4.1).

(52) The one-prefix restriction of Arizona Tewa (Kroskrity 1985)

a. semele din-han
pot 1sg.POSS-break
‘My pot broke’

b. he'i-n sen-en do-khwEdi
this-pl man-pl 1sg.AGT-hit
‘I hit these men’

c. he'i-n sen-en-di di-khwEdi
this-pl man-pl-OBL 1sg.PAT-hit
‘These men hit me’

d. Ne'i kwiyo na:-tay
this woman 2sg.AGT-know
‘You know this woman’

e. Ne'i kwiyo-di wo:-tay
this woman-OBL 2sg.PAT-know
’This woman knows you’

f. nE'i-n 'ayu-n 'o:'i-n 'enu-n-di 'o:be-khwEdi
this-pl girl-pl that-pl boy-pl-OBL 3pl.PAT-hit
‘Those boys hit these girls’


"The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that 
English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow 
words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways 
to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary."
-- James Nicoll