Btw, to my russian ear it at first sounded like 'she made him a successfull man'. Wow.
Hm, I thought "to become" was "stát se + instrumental". Maybe I have misunderstood something?
No, you haven't. "Stal se úspěšným člověkem." is also possible.
Could this expression be influenced by German? In German we can say: Es wurde aus ihm ein berühmter Mann."
Could be, there are several calques like this.
This one confuses me... "He became from him/it a successful man"?
May be something like:
A successful man got/came out of him.
He turned out to become a successful man.
He became (one) "of those successful people" maybe
It still seems no one has explained exactly what is happening here with the z něj. Is that a common way of phrasing this? Can someone give some other examples?
Also, 'person' should be the preferred translation, not man.
Basically, literally the words mean "a succesful man became out of him". You can also say the more direct equivalent of English "Stal se úspěšným člověkem.", but it sounds somewhat bookish.
Ok yeah, and can we assume that its a man since its 'úspěšný'?
Not because of that. úspěšný must agree with člověk as člověk is grammatically masculine.
However, even one of the possible meanings of člověk in the dictionary is indeed muž:
2. muž 1: mladý člověk; člověk velké postavy
It is likely a male person.
Ok, but what if we said 'úspěšná člověka'? Does that make any sense in order to make it a female person?
That is completely ungrammatical. *Člověka is not a Czech word.
As an occasionalism, a female human would be člověčice.
Well ok.. we try again another time .. :)