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The sentence is taken from the 4th volume of 『裏バイト』

「そして、母さんが、如何に高いレベルにいたって事。」

Context: A son whose mother is a successful designer has returned home for the first time in 10 years. His main reason for leaving his parents was that he aspired to become a designer on his own and ultimately wanted to become more successful than his mother. While listing some of the realisations he made during this time he ends with this sentence.

My question is regarding the 「如何に~か」construction. Initially I wondered about why a 「」stands at the end of this sentence, and while searching the Internet for a bit I came across this article:

https://yakyuboy.pixnet.net/blog/post/32093966

From what I understand the 「如何に~か」is regarded a construction on its own here. Generally speaking this construction seems to be used to underline that “the extent of something is large/high/etc.” What is underlined is placed between 「如何に」and「」; therefore in the example sentence it is used to understand just how high his mother’s design skills are, right?

Anyway, I was not able to find any other explanations of this construction, so I am still a bit unsure about whether my understanding here is correct or not. I am not really able to explain why, but dropping the「」sound weird to me. So it might also be the case that 「如何に~か」is not a construction on its own, but rather that 「」 is necessary in phrases like these (for grammatical reasons I don’t seem to understand). If that is the case, why is this necessary?

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Grammatically, rather than 如何に ~ か being a construction on its own, the pattern is <疑問詞> ~ か when embedding questions. So か is the usual question marker.

如何に is more or less the same as the English how, and just like how, can be used for questions and exclamations.

Embedding questions and exclamations are done by <疑問詞>~か:

  • I realized how difficult the problem is. どれほど問題が難しいに気づいた
  • She asked me where I went last night. 彼女は私に昨夜どこにいったの尋ねた
  • He told me how he did that. 彼は私にそれをどのようにやったの教えた

The sentence of the question has I realized omitted: そして、母さんが、如何に高いレベルにいたかって事に気づいた. So, it is an embedded exclamation requiring か. (って事 can be omitted: it is possible to end the sentence ...レベルにいたか or to use ...レベルにいたか気づいた.)


If not embedded, どれほど/如何に~ことか can be used.

  • How difficult the problem was! 如何にその問題が難しかったことか!

こと is optional: 如何にその問題が難しかったか!

FYI: (I assume) Like in English, expressing an exclamation in a full sentence would be rare, and in this sense 如何にその問題が難しかったか is not really natural. And, also like in English, there is a general ambiguity between interrogative and exclamatory sentences. (如何に is mostly for embedded exclamation in modern usage, I think.)

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