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社長に議長に田中氏が任命された。

i think the possible meanings are:

  1. Mr. Tanaka was appointed by the chairman to be the president.
  2. Mr. Tanaka was appointed by the president to be the chairman.

Is that all correct?

Using the idea in this thread The grammar of “虎から食べられた” and “虎に食べられた”? is maybe this a possible remedy:

社長から議長に田中氏を任命された。

making it unambiguous and meaning

Mr. Tanaka was appointed to be the chairman by the president.

Does changing "" to "から" both sound natural and remove ambiguity?

  • 英文では「Mr. Tanaka was appointed~」と、「Mr. Tanaka」が主語だから、日本語も「田中氏は/が ~~任命された。」とした方が自然なのでは? – Chocolate Sep 30 '15 at 8:16
  • Using によって is another way to clarify passive sentences that have both a "by ~" and an indirect object. – Darius Jahandarie Oct 1 '15 at 16:11
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Yes, you're right. 社長から議長に田中氏を任命された is a solution to get rid of ambiguity.

  • 3
    @Will It seems a little rude to say it's not worthy of any upvotes... (it's like saying "this is so bad I'd downvote it multiple times if I could", no?). I'd rather have native speakers feel comfortable responding on the site without feeling they need to write a detailed explanation each time. – Darius Jahandarie Oct 3 '15 at 1:52
  • @Will "fix the erroneous を particle!" >> It's not necessarily "erroneous"... it'd be 「~を~される」in the indirect passive voice and 「~が~される」 in the direct passive voice... – Chocolate Oct 3 '15 at 10:12
  • If OP didn't understand the reason, I'd add some explanation. But one who offered the sentence is him. – user4092 Oct 3 '15 at 19:20
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As you said, this sentence is ambiguous as Japanese grammar.

As my point of view, I modified it like below.

社長 --> subject
田中氏 --> a target person
議長 --> An assigned post

The president appointed 田中氏 to the chairman.「社長は議長に田中氏を任命した」

At first, I think this is not the passive sentence. And usage of a preposition is importance. 「は」「に」「から」「を」... and so on. Because it is possible that the meaning change dramatically.

Please refer a site below. http://nihongoichiban.com/home/japanese-grammar-particles/

Hope it helps.

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