彼は市長に選ばれた。

English Translation

He was elected mayor.

Could this also mean, “He was chosen by the mayor”?

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@ericaw No. We don’t say 彼は市長に選ばれた when we mean “he was chosen by the mayor” – we would say 市長は彼を選んだ (i.e. in an active voice). And 彼は市長に選ばれた is most likely to be interpreted as “He won the mayoral race (and thereby he became the mayor.)”

This is a typical misunderstanding about (or cultural gap in) the difference of “passive forms” in Japanese and English. 選ばれた in this context is not a pure “passive” form, but it has the connotation of “humbleness”. That’s why we use “passive forms” more frequently than English speakers.

You can also say 彼は市長選に勝利した (i.e. in an active voice) to mean “he won the mayoral race”. But it sounds to Japanese native speakers like 1) he is trumpeting his victory in an unsophisticated way, or 2) the announcer apparently takes his side.

We in Japan expect humbleness from political candidates. Even if the victory should be largely attributed to the candidate himself, we see the victory is brought by voters (or even by God). With this social virtue, we prefer 彼は市長に選ばれた (in a passive voice).

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