Chinese Course and Chinese Examinations Preparation Course (IGCSE, IB, A-Level, AP, ACT)
Most historic texts and literature written before the beginning of the Twentieth Century in China were written in literary Chinese. There is a very large body of literary Chinese texts, most of which are not yet translated to English. Literary Chinese also lingers on in modern Chinese in the form of embedded idioms and common sayings. The fact that written Chinese can be read independently of pronunciation is one of the reasons that it has survived in such a recognizable form for so long and is being used over a very broad geographic area, including all of East Asia.
When studying Chinese history, literature, and philosophy it is common to study original texts, many of which, in contrast to Old English and Latin, have a long continuous tradition until the transition from literary Chinese to modern Chinese in written text around the start of the Twentieth Century. Literary Chinese is encountered in Buddhist texts, whose original translations from Sanskrit are still in wide use today in the Chinese Buddhist community.
Modern Chinese is considered a polysyllabic language because most of the words in the language have two characters. Literary Chinese is considered basically a monosyllabic language, meaning that most words consist of a single character.
Punctuation in classical Chinese has mostly been added at a later date to make reading easier. In particular, question marks, quotation marks, and semi-colons were not used at all in literary Chinese. Some literary Chinese text used no punctuation at all, making it very difficult for modern readers. Some texts used periods in place of both periods and modern commas.