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她吃晚饭的时候她朋友打电话来了。

I know it focuses the mind on perspective -- like the action previously stated has come toward the speaker in some way. But what is the exact function? I'd love to start naturally incorporating these elements on my own.

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This is a really good question. I assume you have already known that 了 is a sign of perfect aspect/tense. Although it is still controversial among grammarians whether Chinese languages have tenses or aspects, from a learner’s perspective, it is the easiest way to understand it. So what you are asking is, why there is another verb 来 in this sentence.

来 is a necessary tendency/direction, which needs to be clarified.

她吃晚饭的时候她朋友打电话了。
While she was having dinner, her friend called.

This may seem completely fine in English, but in Chinese it is not correct for its ambiguity. “Her friend” may have called her, or the police, or anyone else. clarifies this ambiguity by suggesting the call is coming from the subject, her friend, to the person mentioned before, her. The reason for this necessary tendency/direction is that 打电话 and to call have slightly different meanings.

To call is both transitive and intransitive when it means to telephone. In most cases it is transitive:

to call my friend, to call a taxi…

It is only intransitive when the object being called has been mentioned before, or the object is obvious in a conversation:

Mary was not home yesterday morning. I called and no one answered. (Mary is mentioned before)
I will call again later. (obviously I will call the person I am talking to)

Technically you could say “I call” but it is only an action of you picking up the telephone and dialling A (ambiguous) number. And it is exactly what it means in Chinese. That is why the specification is needed.

The rest is more advanced grammar

打电话 is a compound verb. And compound verbs are mostly intransitive, e.g.

看电影 watch a movie
洗衣服 wash clothes
打电话 lit. dial a telephone
吃饭 have a meal, lit. eat rice
唱歌 sing a song
跳舞 dance a dance

These compound verbs, as a whole, are verbs. But they have “sub-structures”. For example, 洗 itself is a verb and 衣服 is the object. In some cases, they can be treated as both compound verb and verb + object, but the two-character verbs are commonly treated only as intransitive compound verbs. This leads to a even more complicated topic about Chinese phrases, which I will not go into details. If you would like you could find some grammatical materials about this. I will just give a thorough analysis of this sentence for reference.

first level

她吃晚饭的时候|她朋友|打电话来了。
她吃晚饭的时候 is an adverbial 状语
她朋友 is the subject 主语
打电话来了 is the verb/predicate 谓语

second level

她吃晚饭|的|时候 is a 偏正短语(adjective + noun or adverb + verb, aka noun phrase or verb phrase) acting as the adverbial
她吃晚饭 is the adjective modifier 定语
的 is a particle, no specific meaning, a link between adjective and noun 时候 is the head 中心语

她|朋友 is a 偏正短语 acting as the subject
她 is the adjective modifier 定语
朋友 is the head 中心语
N.B. There is no cases in Chinese but you can think of 她的 as the possessive pronoun her. 的 is omitted here to show a sense of intimacy (compare 我妈妈 and 我的妈妈, both mean my mom, the first is more intimate whilst the second more formal).

打电话|来|了 is a 动补短语(verb + complement) acting as the verb
打电话 is the verb 谓语
来 is the complement 补语
了 is a particle 助词, no specific meaning, a sign of the completion of action

third level

她|吃晚饭 is a 主谓短语(subject + verb) acting as an adjective
她 is the subject 主语 吃饭 is the verb 谓语

fourth level

打|电话 吃|晚饭 are 动宾短语 acting as verbs (aka compound verbs)
打&吃 are verbs 动词
电话&晚饭 are objects 宾语

This level is not necessary as you can treat compound verbs as an independent verb. And here are some variations of the sentence:

她吃完饭打时候她朋友打电话来了。(original)
她吃完饭打时候她朋友打了电话来。(ver. a)
她吃完饭打时候她朋友打来了电话。(ver. b)
她吃完饭打时候她朋友打来电话了。(ver. c)

They are all correct but the analyses of the phrases are different. Keep in mind that 了 follows directly after the verb.

ver. a
打 is a verb
打了|电话 is a 动宾短语(verb + object) acting as a verb
打了电话|来 is a 动补短语 (verb + complement) acting as the verb of the sentence
This is an SV sentence

ver. b
打 is a verb
打|来 is a 动补短语(verb + complement) acting as the verb of the sentence
电话 is the object of the sentence
This is an SVO sentence

ver. c
打 is a verb
打|来 is a 动补短语(verb + complement) acting as a verb 打来|电话 is a 动宾短语(verb + object) acting as the verb of the sentence
This is an SV sentence

PS
I have always found it helpful to analyse the phrases of sentences when I am trying to learn Chinese. I think that the phrase is one of the most difficult and confusing parts of Chinese language and one of the main reasons that Chinese is quite “fluid” in terms of word order. The downside is that it is quite difficult to phrase a long and complex sentence compared to English. That is my own opinion though. But I did notice that native speakers tend to break a long sentence into a few small ones. Anyway hope this can help.

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Verbs in Chinese don't have past tenses.

她朋友打电话来了 -> Her friend called. Or she received a phone call from her friend.

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她朋友打电话来了.

来 here implies that her friend's call is towards her. 她朋友打电话了 just means her friend made a phone call, no direction indicated.

Compare 我一会打电话过去 to 我一会打电话过来. Both 过去 and 过来 suggest the direction of the call.

Btw, 了 just denotes the completion.

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I don't think you should regard 来了 as necessarily belonging together.

Nor does 了 always indicate the past.

她来了,绕过拐角过来了。
She's coming, (she's) just coming round the corner now.

公共汽车来了。
Here comes the bus.

她吃晚饭的时候她朋友打电话来了。
While she was eating supper her friend called.

她吃晚饭的时候她朋友打来电话了。
While she was eating supper her friend called.

Languages tend to like redundancy, so some bits may be discarded:

她吃晚饭的时候她朋友打电话。
While she was eating supper her friend called.

她吃晚饭的时候她给朋友打去电话。 (The opposite of 来 is often 去。)
While she was eating supper she called her friend.

Funny, telephone means 'far sounds', originally a French system of some kind of musical morse code. Chinese has 电话: electric words

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To me it's sound like past continuous tense.

Without 来了: Her friend called her at the dinner.

With 来了:The call came when she was having the dinner.

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