Turning the date

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 21, 2008

With a Russian athlete leading the javelin competition, Czech thrower Barbora Spotakova stepped up for her final throw and thought about the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia forty years ago that day. After her victory, she described her goal with that throw in a wonderful turn of phrase:

I was wondering if I could turn the date.

I don’t know if that’s a translation or what, but non-native speakers of English often express ideas more beautifully than native speakers do (Nabokov for example).

Somewhat related…how perfect is the name of the US women’s soccer team goalkeeper: Hope Solo.

Update: I need a do-over on this one. First of all, Nabokov is a native English speaker; in fact, he could read and write English before he could Russian. Second, the NY Times modified the quote in that article! When I read it, the selection above was a direct quote attributed to Spotakova. Now the passage reads:

“Aug. 21 is a very special day for the Czech Republic — it’s the 40th anniversary of the Soviet invasion in 1968,” she said afterward. “I of course had a Russian competitor against me. She was winning with such a long throw,” she added, and said she wondered if she’d be able to turn the date to her advantage.

That’s much less poetic…I wonder if there was a translation misunderstanding or something. (thx, dan & nivan)