"On the twentieth, it was Kateřina's birthday."
Translation:Dvacátého měla Kateřina narozeniny.
My comment addresses only the first part of yours. I have heard both that "standard" Czech word order is SVO and that Czech word order is free. Based on my experience, it's "free-er," relative, for example, to English, but it's definitely not open to doing whatever we want with it, and there are plenty of non-SVO constructions... to be lived with, whether we "get" them or not. (I, for one, often don't... but I'm learning to accept the language for what it is and keep plugging away.)
We simply do not separate adverbials of time like this. We have one clause, not comma and the word order must makes sense in that single clause. As endless_sleeper points out, Czech is an SVO language.
We can debate whether "Dvacátého Kateřina měla narozeniny." is possible, but "Dvacátého, Kateřina měla narozeniny." is straigh out. Note that such a comma would change the pronunciation in a specific way and it s simply not done in Czech.
Thank you 'endless_sleeper' and 'BoneheadBass' for your answers. English, Russian and Romanian are SVO languages as well, but this type of sentence construction (as we see it above in English) works fine in all of them. I just thought that there might be an explanation in case of Czech. Anyway, I take it as it is.
Like some of the others here I thought that "Dvacátého Kateřina měla narozeniny." was OK, and was surprised that it was not. In the accepted translation, is měla placed after Dvacátého because of the ever-present Second Position Rule, or for some other (stylistic or idiomatic) reason?
A native speaker would choose among these word orders based on context and what the new information is:
"Dvacátého měla Kateřina narozeniny." - What happened on the 20th? It was K.'s BIRTHDAY.
"Dvacátého měla narozeniny Kateřina." - it was KATEŘINA'S birthday.
"Kateřina měla narozeniny dvacátého." - her birthday was ON THE 20TH.
"Kateřina měla dvacátého narozeniny." - Speaking about Kateřina, it was her BIRTHDAY on the 20th.
As you can see, "měla" likes to stick to the 2nd position, like a linking word, while the full-meaning-carrying words are shuffled around. 1st position: what we've been talking about, what the question asked about... 3rd position: a further detail specifying the 4th word... and finally 4th position: the new information, the "core" of what is being conveyed to the listener, the part that would usually be stressed in English (because it can't be shuffled around in English).
Sentences with other word orders (like "Dvacátého Kateřina měla narozeniny.") are still understandable, but not natural, which means the listener has to perform some brief mental gymnastics to parse the sentence in their brain.