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  1. 「確かにいろいろ危険な目には遭ったし、新しい精霊が現れるたびに大変なことに巻き込まれはするけど......それを補って余りあるくらい、俺は、みんなにたくさんのものをもらってるんだ。それこそ、十香たちがいない人生なんて、今さら考えられないくらいにな」

  2. 家中にある本を読破した澪は、それこそ日本に何年も住んでいたレベルで言葉を操れるようになっていたし、礼節やマナー、社会常識についてもある程度学習していたため、崇宮家のお目付役・真那から外出の許可が出たのだ。

How should I understand these それこそs in the quoted texts? Like “just this”?

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  • Were Mio's excellent linguistic skills mentioned earlier in the novel? – aguijonazo May 1 at 14:54
  • @aguijonazo Yes, her excellent linguistic skills were mentioned earlier in the novel. (When Mio first appeared, she wasn’t able to speak. But she learned fast and soon she was able to speak Japanese fluently.) – chino alpha May 1 at 15:32
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The basic meaning of それこそ is "exactly that", but I think you're seeing a derivative usage of this. This type of それこそ is used in the context of reinforcing the speaker's opinion or correcting someone's knowledge by emphatically presenting an extreme-sounding fact or (counter-)example. It's interchangeable with むしろ. The nuance is "rather", "even" or "contrarily (to your expectation)".

  • 納豆なんて、日本ではそれこそ30円で買える。
    (You may be thinking natto is expensive but) in Japan, natto is something you can buy for (even) 30 yen.
  • もちろんその歌は知っています。それこそ子供のころから。
    Of course I know that song. Actually, I've known it ever since I was a kid.
  • 実は彼は強いんです。それこそ、私ですら勝てないくらいですし。
  • いや、始めるなら早いほうがいい。それこそ今日から始めよう。
  • 彼なら合格するどころか、それこそ1位だって取れるだろう。

Related: Can someone help break down それこそ〜くらいには?

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Both sentences would do perfectly fine without それこそ. We could say its sole function in these contexts is to add emphasis.

In the first example, the speaker emphasizes how much his friends have come to mean to him. He does so by saying, following それこそ, he cannot even imagine a life without them now. It’s like saying they mean “precisely” that much. What he said after それこそ was meant to back up his claim in a way the listener could relate, because, in general, if one says he cannot imagine a life without something, that thing must be very important to him. It serves the purpose of emphasizing his point well.

The second example can be interpreted the same way. In this interpretation. the narrator emphasizes Mio’s excellent linguistic skills by saying, following それこそ, her level is on par with someone who has lived in Japan for years. She’s “precisely” that good.

However, I can think of another possibility. The sentence explains why Mio was given permission to go out. It implies it’s logical because of her qualifications. それこそ could also be understood as emphasizing the logicalness of the consequence (her obtaining permission) by giving a reference to what is already known to the reader: she is very good at Japanese. She is “precisely” that qualified.

To test this interpretation, I tried changing the position of それこそ as follows:

家中にある本を読破した澪は、日本に何年も住んでいたレベルで言葉を操れるようになっていたし、それこそ礼節やマナー、社会常識についてもある程度学習していたため、崇宮家のお目付役・真那から外出の許可が出たのだ。

This eliminates the possibility of the first interpretation because what follows それこそ says nothing but vague ある程度 about the degree to which she has learned manners. For the sentence to sound as natural to me, I would have to already know either she is well mannered or good manners are among the conditions for permission to be granted. Otherwise, what follows それこそ doesn’t serve as a valid reference for the purpose of emphasizing the logicalness of her permission, or anything else.

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