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I'm trying to figure out what "こと” is referring to in this idiom/grammar point.

In the following example sentence:

彼は若いころから日本に住んでいただけのことはあって、さすが日本語がうまいんだね。

What does koto refer to here?

Additionally, is this perfectly interchangeable with だけあって

Compare the following 2 sentences

彼は若いころから日本に住んでいただけのことはあって、さすが日本語がうまいんだね。
彼は若いころから日本に住んでいただけあって、さすが日本語がうまいんだね。

Are these different? If so, why?

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possible duplicate of Shouldn't this phrase using 【だけのこと】 mean "just for that"? –  user458 Jul 27 '11 at 16:57
    
@sawa That question was incredibly helpful in understanding the overall meaning (especially the "だけ" aspect) however I couldn't seem to find any good reason as to why こと has been thrown haphazardly into the mix. I tried to differentiate this question by focusing on こと and contrasting between both だけのことはあって and だけあって. –  phirru Jul 27 '11 at 17:04
    
I see. That may make a point. –  user458 Jul 27 '11 at 17:14
    

2 Answers 2

I think こと just refers to the general situation, and does not refer to some particular thing. A close English analogue may be the case as in It is the case that he was living in Japan. Your two sentences with and without こと are interchangeable.

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It doesn't refer to anything. Again, it's just two grammar points:

  • だけのことはある is surely because ~; not surprising that ~; It was worth ~

  • だけあって because, as expected (used for positive things)

Examples:

毎日訓練してるだけあって上達した。

As expected after a while of daily training, he improved a lot.

さすがにばかと呼ばれるだけのことはある。

He's not called an idiot for no reason indeed !

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I'm not sure how helpful of an explanation "they're grammar points" is... I'm sure there is an explanation for this expression aside from tautology. –  rintaun Jul 28 '11 at 3:23
    
Well, I mean that there is no use in trying to do a fine grain analysis of each word, considering the meaning comes from taking groups of words. A bit like wondering what "far" is to understand the difference between "as I understand it" and "as far as I understand it". Also, it's a tautology for you know that they are two points, but it seems to me that phirru did not. –  Axioplase Jul 28 '11 at 4:41

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