Hi, my name is Thomas Van Hoey (IPA:[‘to:mas van ‘hui]). Alternatively, you may find me by my Chinese name — 司馬智 (Hanyu pinyin: Sīmǎ Zhì).

I am a sinologist and a linguist, with a PhD in Linguistics (read at the Graduate Institute of Linguistics of National Taiwan University). My MA degrees in Sinology and Linguistics were obtained at the University of Leuven.

My current research focuses mostly on ideophones in Chinese. For my PhD dissertation, I developed the Chinese Ideophone Database (CHIDEOD) (click here for the app) and investigated prototypicality and salience effects present in the data. My supervisor is Lu Chiarung. I have a passion for Mandarin and Premodern Chinese, as well as many other languages and the phenomenon ‘language’ in general.

Between my bachelor and my master of Sinology, I was able to study at Suzhou University 苏州大学 with a scholarship provided by the Hanban.

Click here for my academic cv.


  • ideophones
  • (Premodern) Chinese
  • historical linguistics
  • Cognitive Linguistics
  • lexical semantics


  • PhD in Linguistics, 2015-2020

    National Taiwan University

  • MA Linguistics, 2015

    University of Leuven

  • MA Sinology, 2014

    University of Leuven

  • BA Sinology, 2012

    University of Leuven




Studying (Premodern) Chinese ideophones diachronically