The term history of Latin (or of any other ancient IE language) in its most widespread usage means 'history of phonology and morphology' as they have developed from PIE. Standard comparative grammars of Latin have concentrated primarily on the development of the phonological and morphological systems of the language, with comparatively little attention paid to historical syntax. This emphasis is reflective of the Indo-European tradition in which these works were executed. Comparatively less progress has been made in the reconstruction of an agreed-upon set of syntactic structures which characterize the protolanguage, and the corresponding principles which govern the syntactic evolution of the daughter languages.
Relying primarily on a functional-typological methodology, in which structural considerations of the traditional type are combined in a complementary and balanced way with functional and typological principles, New Perspectives on Historical Latin Syntax approaches the matter from a non-traditional perspective, investigating diachronic phenomena primarily from their discourse function as revealed in Latin texts. A sample includes the origins and development of participant-tracking in discourse, deixis, the use and function of sentenceconnectives, the shift from 'be' to 'have' expressions to mark predicative possession, and changes in word order, to name but a few. New Perspectives on Historical Latin Syntax thus provides a means of investigating the long-term syntactic history of the language, a history that runs up to 5000 years if the starting point is Proto-Indo-European, and at least 1200 years from the perspective of Latin itself, that is, from the first inscriptions to the work of Gregory of Tours.