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In the trailer for Fault Milestone One, one character asks another, わたし達...帰れるよね...?

The translation provided of 'Will we... be able to go back...?' seems straight forward enough, but the use of よ here confuses me. I'm familiar with よ to add emphasis or certainty, or to soften insisting, commanding, or warning statements, but none of these seem to apply here. In fact, the sentence seems very timid and hesitant - hardly a situation where emphasis is needed.

Why would the writers have chosen to use よ here? What does the よ add to this sentence? I know that よね can be used to ask for confirmation; would this sentence be better translated as "We will be able to return... won't we?" to encapsulate the nuance of the particles?

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    Your translation looks more accurate than the one on the screen. ☺ – Chocolate Apr 28 '16 at 7:34
  • Simple 私たち帰れるね would mean that the speaker has no doubt that they can return. – user4092 Apr 29 '16 at 0:35
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The way I have come to understand よ and ね, is that they mark ownership over a piece of information being used in conversation. よ marks a piece of information as being the speaker's, while ね marks it as being someone else's. This is known as epistemics within conversation analysis.

For instance, if we look at the phrase "お兄さんは歯医者だよね?", the speaker expresses that he is rather sure this is the case, but since that piece of information (i.e. that the recipient's brother is a dentist) is not 'his', he couldn't just come out and say "お兄さんは歯医者だよ", as this would be considered rude (depending on context, of course).

In my understanding of the phrase 帰れるよね, the speaker expresses a certainty that has come into question. Up until that point, the speaker must have believed that they were able to return, but is no longer sure, and thus seeks another authority on the matter, marked with ね. Therefore, I agree with your translation as "We will be able to return... won't we?", as it expresses the same certainty in "We will be able to return", with a question tagged onto it.

  • Great explanation, this is something I've thought about for a long time! – Locksleyu Apr 28 '16 at 18:33

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