This course offers an introduction to the study of Pidgin and Creole languages, both on a theoretical and a practical level. Having been formed in extraordinary language contact situations, typically in colonial settings, Pidgins and Creoles have attracted linguists with an interest in language acquisition, variation and change from a number of different disciplines of linguistic research and different schools of thought. As a result, Pidgin and Creole Studies are one of the most contested areas of linguistic research even today. Consequently, there are two goals we want to reach in this course. The first aim is getting to know the various – and controversial – theories about the emergence and subsequent development of Pidgins and Creoles, and about the social, economic and cognitive processes involved.

The second aim of the course is to gain knowledge about the linguistic features of Pidgins and Creoles, about the similarities as well as their differences. Students will be asked to each specialise on one particular variety and share their expertise with their classmates. In this way, we will be able not only to compare English-based Pidgins and Creoles from Africa (e.g. Nigerian Pidgin), the Caribbean (e.g. Jamaican Creole) and the Pacific (e.g. Tok Pisin), but this will also allow us to take a look at Pidgins and Creoles with a different ancestry.

At the end of this course, students should have a clear overview of the Pidgin and Creole languages spoken today, as well as the theoretical strands of Pidgin and Creole Studies. They should know about Pidgin and Creole features, and be able to formulate their own opinion on matters such as the sociohistorical circumstances of Pidgin and Creole genesis, the creole life cycle, cognitive restructuring processes, as well as the origin and the categorisation of these languages.