Pidgin and creole languages share the property of owing their lexicons to some donor languages (the lexifiers) while being morphosyntactically (and semantically, and pragmatically) distinct from them, so that spontaneous intercomprehension between the pidgin or creole and the lexifier is almost never ensured. Pidgins are traditionally (and not fully accurately) distinguished from creoles by the latter’s property of being vernacular languages for localized and stable language communities, whereas the former are vehicular idioms only. Pidgin and creole languages can be studied in parallel or jointly from two perspectives : for themselves or in view of the issues they raise for theoretical and historical linguistics, as well as for sociolinguistics and cultural studies. Recently, the acute awareness that many pidgins and creoles fall into the sad group of endangered languages imparted a feeling of urgency to their study.
Since they are an object of study – that is, since the end of the 19th century – pidgins and creoles have kept raising two issues summed up in the following questions : Why are they so different from their lexifiers (at least apparently)? Why are they so similar to each other (at least apparently)? Such questions raise issues of a historical as well as typological nature.
            Divergence is a problem mainly because of the time factor involved: it came about fast compared to “usual” language change. Typological convergence (to the extent it is ascertained) is a problem owing to the historical and geographical separation of pidgin and creole languages. Do we therefore need specific models and theories to account for an emergence phenomenon characterized by rapidity and deep grammatical restructurations? Or can general theories of language change and acquisition (as L1 or L2) satisfactorily account for the phenomenon?
Answering these questions obviously depends on the availability of careful descriptions of the individual languages, of which there is a fast growing, although still insufficient number.
Now, the very fact of raising these questions proves, if need be, that pidgin-creole studies belong to the core of linguistic science. Few would deny the crucial contribution that exploring these languages, their structures and histories has already made to the eventual solution of many foundational issues of the sciences of language.
            Pidgin-creole studies are now mature: they share a corpus of concepts, questions and research agendas about which all researchers agree. Among European scholars there seems to be a consensus that (a) generalist theories of pidgin-creole formation are basically correct; (b) pidgin-creole studies should not, as a consequence, be separated from all other studies, the intertwining or parallel pursuit of which constitute language science; (c) it is a no less legitimate endeavour to study every individual pidgin or creole language for itself, as one does Russian or Hixkaryana; (d) the endangered language angle is an important one in pidgin-creole studies.

The present research programme aims to build on this consensus in order to reach a much higher level of coordination. The network groups specialists from: France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Haïti, the Republic of Mauritius and USA. They already have a long experience of working together on an individual basis or through more or less informal research groups. One such group, that has endured for several years now, is the Groupe de Recherche sur les Grammaires créoles (GRGC) which brings together Dutch and French scholars for yearly meetings.
The level of synergy thus reached as well as the informal network that unites individual scholars across Europe fully justifies, even demands, we believe, establishing a more permanent structure with sufficient resources for continuous and institutionalized scientific coordination, in a way that has never existed in Europe so far. This is the goal of the present “International scientific coordination network”.