The study of contact languages has heightened our awareness of the genesis and mechanisms of human languages. Pidgins and creoles are of particular interest since the outcome of contact-induced language change associated with their development can be traced back to less than 400 years - a relatively short time-span. Theories of pidgin and creole genesis will be examined as well as pidgin types, and the role of substrate and superstrate languages. The question of “inadequate input” as a central factor in the development of creoles (Bickerton 1981) will be evaluated. We will outline the socio-historical background against which pidgins and creoles developed before examining their current sociolinguistic aspects and linguistic practices.