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I know that nowadays there are some databases like the one on The Jaded Network but they are far from being complete. Also, what were manga translators doing before these sites appeared, like where did they go for this kind of information? Are there any materials you can study or courses you can take to become fluent in onomatopoeia? Or is it some weird sacred knowledge that was never really codified and can only be gained by growing in Japan? Does a foreigner have any hope of ever reaching native level of onomatopoeia mastery?

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    I think Japanese SE would greatly benefit from a reference page solely dedicated to onomatopoeia. – dROOOze Nov 27 '19 at 2:19
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    Onomatopoeia are definitely one of the things that mark native-like ability and are in turn also IMO among the hardest to acquire. I'd love to give advice but honestly this is one of the places that I struggle with too. Maybe read a lot of manga? :) – Darius Jahandarie Nov 28 '19 at 13:36
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Or is it some weird sacred knowledge that was never really codified and can only be gained by growing in Japan?

日本語基本文法辞典 (A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar) has a few pages (starting from page 50) about giseigo and gitaigo.

It gives a few tips on sound symbolism, like how voiced consonants tend to represent something big, heavy, dull, whereas voiceless consonants represent something small, light and sharp. There are only a few pages on the subject but I would recommend the whole book to all Japanese learners.

Are there any materials you can study or courses you can take to become fluent in onomatopoeia?

I'm a big fan of onomatopedia.jp as a learning resources as well. It covers many common words with cute graphics, example sentences and videos.

Does a foreigner have any hope of ever reaching native level of onomatopoeia mastery?

Expose yourself to as much Japanese as you can. Read, watch, listen as much as you can and you will always come across more words, try and remember the ones that are used most frequently. (i.e. ドキドキ、フワフワ)

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