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I am watching 사랑의 불시착 aka Crash Landing On You. About five minutes into the first episode, the main character's father is revealed by her brother to be released from jail, to which her brother says:

네가 무슨 명절이며 제삿날 코빼기를 비추든가 말든가 난 상관없지만 오늘은 좀 와 봐야 되지 않냐?

Subs: "I don’t care whether or not you visit us on the holidays or for the memorial ceremonies, but shouldn’t you come by today?"

I guess I am slightly confused by the use of 좀 coming off as if it is a request, but the grammar pattern typically describing what one must or should do. Is there much difference than if the second clause was a more standard "...봐 주냐"?

My own hypothesis is that phrasing it in the negative in this way gives it more of a retorical point: "but surely you should at least..." than as a request, but again the 좀 bothers me.

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  • I do not understand one of your questions. Do you mean your example sentence can be "... 오늘은 와 봐 주냐?" instead? If you say "Yes," I will say "No, it cannot be." The speaker wants the listener to agree; is a word used to soften a request for agreement. You do not have to use 좀 there.
    – Klmo
    Aug 14 '20 at 9:40
  • Sorry if I wasn't clear. You are correct about what I was asking. So the speaker is requesting agreement that the listener should attend, rather than requesting that they attend? If that is the case, may I folow up by asking: What about the sentence makes it seem like a request for agreement rather than a request to attend? Is it the negative inflection?
    – Ubz
    Aug 14 '20 at 20:42
  • Yes, because the speaker thinks the listener should have attended or visited. The listener may disagree about it. She/he will or will not attend or visit afterwards, so requesting agreement about what someone should / have to do, using the construction "...어야/아야 하지 않...?", can be one of circumlocutory ways to request them to do it. A direct request is made with an imperative sentence like "오늘은 와 줘." A question that ends with the adjective 아니다 or the verb/adjective 아니하다 is an assertion, a request for agreement, a request for confirmation, etc. The context determines which one it is.
    – Klmo
    Aug 15 '20 at 7:43
  • Thank you for the detail, this has been very insightful.
    – Ubz
    Aug 15 '20 at 18:48
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In your example sentence, the main verb 오다 means to come (to the place where the speaker is at a certain moment), the auxiliary verb 보다 means to try doing something, and the auxiliary verb 주다 means to do something as a favor (or for someone). Some auxiliary verbs including 보다 and 주다 are seldom literally translated into English, but I will use these meanings below.

A question "(너,) 오늘은 와 봐야 되지 않냐?" ("Don't you think you have to try coming here for today?" or "Shouldn't you try coming here for today?") suggests that the speaker thinks the listener should (have) come. This is a request for agreement; the speaker hopes that the listener will agree about it. This kind of construction is a circumlocution used to request the listener to do something when the speaker is talking about the listener's moral behavior not about someone else's. On the other hand, the following are the speaker's questions about the listener's intention (or plan):

  • (너,) 오늘은 와 봐 주냐? ("Are you trying coming here for me/us/her/him/them for today?")

  • (너,) 오늘은 와 보냐? ("Are you trying coming here for today?")

  • (너,) 오늘은 와 주냐? ("Are you coming here for me/us/her/him/them for today?")

  • (너,) 오늘은 오냐? ("Are you coming here for today?")

The speaker will expect a yes or no answer to one of these four questions. Normally, such sentences are not directly relevant to requesting the listener to do something. Thus, you cannot replace the second clause of your example sentence with "오늘은 와 봐 주냐?"

좀 in your example is a function word used to soften a request for agreement (You should also note that it can also be used to soften a request for a favor as in "이 책 좀 며칠 빌려줘."). Removing it will make a practically insignificant change to the meaning of the sentence. Regarding this 좀, however, I suppose I should mention that some people misunderstand it. About two years ago, when I asked "이거 좀 예쁘지 않아?" one of my friends answered "좀 예쁜 게 아니라 많이 예뻐." I found later that his answer was not a pun or joke. I wanted him to agree, but he took 좀 as 조금 (a little (bit)). Sometimes, this kind of thing happens because 좀 has multiple definitions.

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I think subtitle translation is wrong.

"오늘은 좀 와 봐야 되지 않냐?" means "you should have come, even only for today, not mentioning holidays or others"

We could always ignore "좀" because it is .. kind of 'please', or 'huh', 'eh?'.

In here, "좀" emphasize the lack of manner of the listener. Or adding judgemental note to the speaking.

Like "Even(좀) you should come home on(in?) the day like this"

Aditional Info

For '좀', Naver dictionary is more complete than Daum's. It shows 4 different meanings.

Maybe, below is more correct I hope.

"You should come home on a day quite(좀) like this"

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Let me add some more examples.

"이거 해라" means "Do this".

"이거 좀 해라" without an accent at 좀 implies one of the following, depending on the context:

  1. "this" is not a big deal,
  2. the one who are asked to do this is supposed to do this or something, but they have been lazy so the speaker is annoyed,

"이거는 해라" means "At least do this". This implies that there are more to be done, but this is the one if the listener choose to do only one of them.

"이거는 좀 해라" implies, in addition to the previous one, that the speaker is annoyed by the listener not doing their job.

"이거 해야 되지 않나?" means "Aren't you/we supposed to do this?" The speaker thinks so, but is not completely sure.

"이거는 해야 되지 않나?" means "Aren't you/we should at least do this?". This implies that the speaker strongly believes that this should be done.

"이거는 좀 해야 되지 않나?" means the same thing, but in addition, the speaker is implying that if the listener doesn't start working, the next sentence they will hear is "You should f***ing do this right now, or I'm gonna kill you".

So, "좀" alone usually doesn't mean much, but "-은/는 좀 해라" instead of "-을/를 좀 해라" usually implies that the speaker is not expecting much from the listener but is annoyed/angry about the listener doing even less than their low expectation. "해야 되지 않나?" is either a question which means what it says literally, or an alternative for "해라" which sounds like a suggestion but is actually closer to an order.

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  • I would add that such implications may differ from person to person. The speaker does not have to get annoyed or angry before using 좀 and the speaker may be completely sure even when she/he says "이거 해야 되지 않나?"
    – Klmo
    Aug 20 '20 at 5:19

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