In China's transition from empire to republic, higher education played a crucially important role. The establishment of modern universities represented a fundamental break with both the institutional patterns and the content and organization of scholarly knowledge that characterized classical institutions. Their pioneering work in adapting classical terminology to modern use was later taken up by scholars such as Yan Fu and Ma Xiangbo, who attempted to build a modern Chinese vocabulary on the basis of classical terminology in the face of a rising tide of neologisms from Japan introduced by the large number of students and scholars who studied in Japan. Early translation work of Christian missionaries, and of Christian scholars such as Ma Xiangbo, kept alive some linguistic connections to classical terminology and so could be seen as providing a foundation of cultural authenticity for the modern academic project. The two most important Christian missionary influences in terms of the institutional development of higher education were American and French.