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What’s his line? Who’s Robert Berrouët-Oriol?
Is he really a “linguiste terminologue” at the service
of our Kreyòl-speaking nation?

Or is he an impostor and a liar at the service
of French hegemony?

@MichelDeGraff | 12/30/2022

Pwofesè lengwistik @MIT
Grenadye @MITHaiti
Manm fondatè @Akademi_Kreyol


Launch of MIT-Haiti Initiative at MIT — October 22, 2010
From left to right: Lyonel Sanon, Evenson Calixte, Hérissé Guirand, Yves Armand, Raymond Noël, Thierry Chérizard,
Patrick Attié, Joseph Hilaire, Michèle Duvivier Pierre-Louis, Marlène Sam, Judy Leonard, Elizabeth Pierre-Louis,
Toru Iiyoshi, Janin Jadotte, Lucie Couet, Jocelyne Trouillot, Michel DeGraff, Jean-Marie Théodat,
Kurt Jean-Charles, Anton Lévy, Vijay Kumar, Carlo Darbouze, Sergey Gaillard.

For more than a couple of years now, Robert Berrouët-Oriol has become the epitome of the fraudulent pseudo-intellectual in the course of his relentless attacks against me as a linguist and educator for my work in the MIT-Haiti Initiative—an initiative that’s contributing to the pedagogical and linguistic foundations of rightside-up schools for a rightside-up country (“lekòl tèt an wo pou peyi tèt an wo”). One of MIT-Haiti’s main objectives is the valorization of Kreyòl as primary language of instruction in Haiti—as a necessary tool for children to learn to read and write, then to learn all other subjects, including science, mathematics and second languages like French, English, Spanish, etc. Our MIT-Haiti team is a rapidly growing network of educators, in Haiti and in the Haitian diaspora, who are co-creating high-quality online open-access resources in Kreyòl. So we find ourselves at the heart of the Kreyòl movement, which is a liberation movement to escape age-old neo-colonial yokes!

Judging from Berrouët-Oriol’s non-stop slander against myself and against the MIT-Haiti Initiative, my hunch is that the steady progress of this Initiative, alongside the global progress of the Kreyòl movement, has become a source of existential angst among Haitian francophiles who rely on French qua “butin de guerre” as a source of political and socio-economic advantages, including social prestige.

This hunch might help us elucidate the root cause of Berrouët-Oriol’s weekly—and, sometimes, daily!—attacks for the past couple of years. These fraudulent attacks (defamation, really) are hurled through unsolicited email messages sent in bulk to thousands of colleagues and to various kinds of organizations all over the world—as long as they have any connection with Haiti, Linguistics, Creole studies or education—especially those who might support MIT-Haiti in various ways, including: MIT, the U.S. National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Sciences, the Linguistic Society of America, USAID, UNESCO, UNICEF, the Society of Caribbean Linguistics, the Comité International des Études Créoles, the Association of Haitian Studies, CUNY’s Haitian Studies Institute, the State University of Haiti, Akademi Kreyòl Ayisyen, Foundation for Knowledge and Liberty in Haiti, and many MANY others. Berrouët-Oriol also publishes his lies almost weekly in the Haitian newspaper Le National. It’s quite telling that these attacks, like most of Berrouët-Oriol’s writings, are generally circulated in French and English, but NOT in Kreyòl—this detail will gain significance in my analyses below…

My contention is that the purpose of Berrouët-Oriol’s persistent fraud over the past couple of years is to try to block the path of MIT-Haiti as part of the Kreyòl movement. The latter is seen as an existential threat against deeply entrenched French hegemony in Haiti. While Berrouët-Oriol writes as if his critiques rest on linguistic and ethical grounds, the reality is that his defamation campaign and the rampant intellectual fraud therein can be analyzed as one extreme manifestation of a general malaise among Haitian Francophiles who have, for far too long, failed to duly acknowledge the crucial importance of Kreyòl as Haiti’s sole national language and who, now, have to face the ugly contradictions of their prejudices and self-loathing. This age-old anti-Kreyòl campaign, with geo-political roots going back to French neo-colonialism in the early 19th century, deserves a thorough analysis so we can start understanding and demystifying the mechanics of fraudulent propaganda and defamation in various sectors of Haitian society—among intellectuals, politicians, media, social networks, schools, universities, etc. This phenomenon is reminiscent of what Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky have labelled as “Manufacturing consent.”

This article will document Berrouët-Oriol’s fraudulent manufacturing of some “shipwreck of Creole lexicography at MIT-Haiti” as he tries to make the case, contrary to widely available evidence, that MIT-Haiti has failed its “objective” as posited by Berrouët-Oriol, namely Kreyòl lexicography—it’s as if he believes that lexicography is MIT-Haiti’s main goal. In trying to make his case, he shows how little he understands what “lexicography” actually means. Worse yet, his uncontrollable fury against the MIT-Haiti Glossary suggests that he has never read any document that describes our actual mission though he has spent so much of these past couple of years on weekly articles about MIT-Haiti. Or he might have misunderstood the description (in Kreyòl and English) of the MIT-Haiti Glossary’s methods and objectives—a puzzling state-of-affairs for a “linguiste terminologue.”

Another aspect of Berrouët-Oriol’s fraud is his misleading claim that his critique is based on some sort of progressive nationalist ethics as he postures himself against another product of his manufacturing, namely some alleged “public support [on my part] to the neo-Duvalierist political mafia cartel PHTK [Parti Haïtien Tèt Kale] in power in Haiti.”

This present article is the third, and hopefully the last, refutation of Berrouët-Oriol’s weekly lies. As we’ll see below, his lies straightforwardly amount to fraud and defamation. I wrote the first two articles—in July 2020 then in February 2022—hoping that Berrouët-Oriol had a minimum of integrity, professional decency and competence. But I’ve now come to realize that I was much too optimistic and perhaps too kind to think that he might actually be a “linguiste terminologue.” Today, there can be no doubt about it: Berrouët-Oriol along with his soldiers (including his “Chevalier”) are reactionary pseudo-intellectuals for hire, engaged in fraud and defamation against MIT-Haiti for the advantage of empire.

As I build my case to document the fraud in Berrouët-Oriol’s critiques, my main question is: What is the REAL agenda behind his underhanded attacks? In my analysis, this smear campaign reflects a widespread anti-Kreyòl animosity among a certain class of Haitian intellectuals and other authorities in the service of neo-colonial hegemony against the fundamental objective of our MIT-Haiti Initiative, namely the valorization of Kreyòl as one key tool for access to quality education for all. This anti-Kreyòl animosity started as early as the end of the 18th century when our ancestors were fighting France’s colonial army during the Haitian Revolution. Witness Jean-Jacques Dessalines’s insistence, while fighting Napoleon's colonial army, that Kreyòl is “our own language,” distinct from French as “the language of others,” then his warning, on our Independence Day on January 1st, 1804, that we should never trust “the eloquence of France’s agents” in Haiti.

The veil on Berrouët-Oriol’s animosity against the Kreyòl movement will be lifted as we document the recurrent double standards (contradictions, really) in his writings: one standard to devalorize my work as a Haitian Creolist leading MIT-Haiti vs. a different standard to valorize iconic agents of Francophonie in Haiti such as: Dany Laferrière of the Académie Française; Michaëlle Jean formerly at the helm of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF); and Lyonel Trouillot, Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres of France. Berrouët-Oriol lionizes the eloquence of these neo-colonial agents of France in Haiti even when some of them offer very public support to former Haitian President Michel Martelly’s Parti Haïtien Tèt Kale (PHTK) which Berrouët-Oriol describes as a “neo-Duvalierist political mafia cartel”! (Details below.)

As this article demonstrates, Berrouët-Oriol’s ambivalence vis-à-vis Haiti’s sole national language is related to a deeply rooted refusal by the Haitian State and Haiti’s upper and middle classes to accept Kreyòl as the universal foundation of knowledge, liberty and justice for the Nation. This refusal cuts across all segments of Haiti's socio-economic, political and intellectual élites, throughout the political spectrum from left to right. This pernicious anti-nation stance among Haiti’s élites of all political (and skin-color) shades is well documented in Historical Sociologist Jean Casimir’s and Anthropologist Philippe Richard Marius’s analyses of State-against-Nation and class-based discrimination in Haiti. In turn, Haiti’s local élites and their middle-class counterparts are in the service of oligarchy and geo-political hegemonic power in France, the U.S., Canada and so on.

NB: Readers who, understandably, can’t spare time to read long articles will find two short summaries on Facebook—here and there—which hint at the fact that the (so called) “linguiste terminologue” is actually an impostor who uses an apparent anti-PHTK political stance to spread defamatory lies against MIT-Haiti while he happily flatters and consorts with prominent PHTK supporters, such as Dany Laferrière and Michaëlle Jean, and neo-colonial pro-French institutions, such as Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, that undermine Haiti’s sovereignty and the overdue promotion of Haiti’s national language—Kreyòl. (Details below.)


For those who have time to look at the present article, let’s start unveiling Berrouët-Oriol’s hidden agenda, starting with his murky professional credentials. I do have doubts about these credentials, especially after a call for linguists and terminologists that I published since July 2020. My doubts doubled when I realized that the “linguiste terminologue” seems to not even understand fundamental concepts in linguistics and terminology—concepts that pertain to the very field of lexicography that he has declared himself to be an expert in. For example, as I explained in a previous response dated February 2022, he thoroughly misrepresents the methods and objectives of the MIT-Haiti Glossary while (apparently) confusing its scope with that of dictionaries like Larousse, Robert, Merriam-Webster, etc. It’s even more striking that he keeps repeating the same mistakes as if the analyses in this response went beyond his capacity to understand the empirical domain and objectives of “lexicography” vs. those of the MIT-Haiti Glossary.

Yet Robert Berrouët-Oriol has anointed himself as spokesperson for what he calls the “community of Haitian linguists.” As such, he has written a letter asking the Linguistic Society of America (LSA) to rescind the LSA Fellowship to soon be awarded to me in the LSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, in January 2023. When I asked Prof. Renauld Govain—Dean of the Faculty of Applied Linguistics at the State University of Haiti, and a former student of Berrouët-Oriol at the FLA—if he knows about this “community of Haitian linguists” that Berrouët-Oriol purports to represent, the Dean replied: “I don’t know of the existence of a ‘community of Haitian linguists’…” [my translation from the Dean’s Kreyòl].

As a Haitian linguist myself, one might suppose that I too am a member of this very “community of Haitian linguists” that, according to Berrouët-Oriol, is asking the LSA to cancel my LSA Fellowship! Such contradiction—a direct result of Berrouët-Oriol’s “scurrilous manipulation,” borrowing some of Berrouët-Oriol’s vivid terminology—is yet another data point demonstrating terminological sleight of hand on the part of the “linguiste terminologue”…

In any case, as a Haitian linguist, I have, indeed, become curious about what the “linguiste terminologue” himself has ever produced in KREYÒL linguistics and terminology. I’ve been looking in vain for anything that he might have authored that could actually be of use in the production of scientific or educational materials in Kreyòl. So I now have two questions for him in this respect which I hope he’ll be able to answer without any further obfuscation:

  1. WILL BERROUËT-ORIOL PLEASE SHARE HIS ARTICLES IN SCIENTIFIC JOURNALS OR CONFERENCES ON THE LINGUISTICS OF KREYÒL? Can he share his doctoral thesis or perhaps his master’s thesis or even a bachelor’s thesis as part of his university-level training in linguistics or terminology? I hope he won’t take offense at this request since he himself recently wrote, on December 26, 2022, in yet another unsolicited bulk email, that “la traduction est une profession, elle s’acquiert par la formation universitaire et la pratique professionnelle qui s’ensuit” (“translation is a profession that’s duly learned through university training and subsequent professional practice,” my translation). Presumably, what he demands as requirements for bona fide translators, he would also demand of himself as a bona fidelinguiste terminologue”, wouldn’t he? Meanwhile my (now) 5-year-old daughter, Èzili, seems more fluent in Kreyòl than Berrouët-Oriol who seems to have no clue about the basic structure of nominal phrases in Kreyòl. So how can a “linguiste terminologue” who knows less than a 5-year-old about Kreyòl syntax judge the validity of Kreyòl technical terms that are in use among Haitian faculty who are experts in their STEM disciplines. At this rate, Berrouët-Oriol’s fraudulent audacity reaches comical proportions!
  2. WILL BERROUËT-ORIOL PLEASE SHARE ANY TOOLS AND RESOURCES (GLOSSARY, LEXICON, DICTIONARY ETC.) THAT HE HAS EVER PUBLISHED TO HELP IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE SCIENTIFIC VOCABULARY OF KREYÒL? Berrouët-Oriol publishes articles most every week in the Haitian newspaper Le National. In these articles—written in FRENCH, not Kreyòl—he evaluates and criticizes various aspects of terminology and language policy. Together with his colleagues, he has (co-)authored and (co-)edited volumes on Kreyòl didactics, language policy and linguistic rights in Haiti. There Berrouët-Oriol advocates, strangely enough, for "statutory parity" (!) between Haiti’s two official languages: Kreyòl, which is legally recognized as our SOLE national language, and French, which is a language that no more than 5% speak fluently. But where are Berrouët-Oriol's concrete CONTRIBUTIONS to the vocabulary of KREYÒL—contributions that could be of actual use in the development of educational resources in Kreyòl? I have found references to Berrouët-Oriol's work on terminology for the FRENCH language alongside his literary productions in French, but none for any lexicographic resource or translation he has ever written for Kreyòl...

When Berrouët-Oriol was asked by Prof. Marc-Kensen Curvinglines if he could share his scientific work as “linguiste terminologue,” his answer, on December 5, 2022, offered very little, outside of a couple of Kreyòl terms, that could help us expand the inventory of technical terms in Kreyòl or that could help us improve on technical terms already in use in Haiti, as documented by the MIT-Haiti Glossary which Berrouët-Oriol has been relentlessly complaining about for more than two years now. Surprisingly enough, some of the very few Kreyòl words, as they appear in Berrouët-Oriol’s texts, suggest that the “linguiste terminologuedoes not even master Kreyòl’s phonemic orthography. So if the “linguiste terminologue” cannot even spell simple Kreyòl words like “gradyasyon,” what competence does he have to evaluate the quality of the MIT-Haiti Glossary? “Criticism is easy, but art is difficult”? Here again, Berrouët-Oriol shows himself to be nothing but a fraud! Also surprising is the fact that all the articles he shared are written in French—not one in Kreyòl. Yes, this too is rather surprising coming from a seemingly staunch advocate of Kreyòl-French “statutory parity” and “[Kreyòl-French] bilingualism for the equity of linguistic rights”! And, still, he has not shared any scientific analysis he has ever published on Kreyòl’s linguistic structures or any substantial inventory of Kreyòl terms.


Berrouët-Oriol is so quick (too quick!) to criticize Kreyòl technical terms that are perfectly acceptable for Kreyòl speakers. Take his spectacularly erroneous and bombastic critique, in the “Haiti autrement” TV show of February 6, 2022, of the Kreyòl technical term “rezistans lè” for the equivalent of the English “air resistance” in the MIT-Haiti Glossary. On that date, he repeated his critique for the umpteenth time, even though this technical term did enter the Kreyòl lexicon long before it was recorded in the MIT-Haiti Glossary. It is in this “Haiti autrement” show, in the microphone of Henry Saint-Fleur, that Berrouët-Oriol declared, quite erroneously and with grandiloquence, that “rezistans lè” is a phrase that is “not Kreyòl,” “that’s agrammatical,” “without any semantics whatsoever,” “a lexicographic catastrophe,” “that does not express any concept at all in any scientific or technical field,” and so on. Yet, let's recall that robust data from my (now) 5-year-old daughter Èzili and from other Kreyòl speakers without any “linguiste terminologue” title show that “rezistans lè” is as acceptable in Kreyòl as “air resistance” is acceptable in English—both are well-structured nominal phrases in their respective grammar. But, when Henry Saint-Fleur asked Berrouët-Oriol what Kreyòl phrase he himself would suggest as a better Kreyòl translation for “air resistance,” the “linguiste terminologue” did not even have the wherewithal to propose a solution for the problem he invented out of thin air.

Yet, it’s every week that Berrouët-Oriol spends time and energy publishing articles in French and sometimes English to try to block the MIT-Haiti Initiative’s efforts to produce quality resources accessible to all children in Haiti in the one language (Kreyòl) that they all can understand and speak fluently.

Today, most students in Haiti still do not have enough quality materials in Kreyòl. Most manuals and other school materials, especially at the higher grades, exist in French only—which is one of Haiti’s two official languages, alongside Kreyòl. Though French is fluently spoken at home by no more than 5% of the population, it is still the primary language—and, often, the sole (written) language—of textbooks, legislation, administration, etc., even for official communications at UNESCO HaitiUNICEF Haiti and other organizations working for "education", "justice" and "human rights" in Haiti such as: Université d'État d'Haïti, Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie, Ministère Ministère de la Culture  et de la Communication,  Office pour la protection du citoyenBureau des Droits Humains en Haïti, etc. Similar language barriers discriminate against 40% of children throughout the world.

So I think it would really help the country (especially teachers and learners who need Kreyòl as the one language of instruction that can help children succeed in Haitian schools) if Berrouët-Oriol would finally find some time to work productively as a “linguiste terminologue” by contributing to the production of scientific terms in Kreyòl. We @MITHaiti would be more than happy to consider Berrouët-Oriol’s lexicographic contributions, if any, for the resources we are developing to help lay the linguistic and pedagogical foundations for rightside-up schools in a rightside-up country.


In another defamatory line of attack, Berrouët-Oriol’s weekly publications and his even more frequent bulk email messages keep asserting that I give “constant support to the neo-Duvalierist political mafia cartel PHTK [Parti Haïtien Tèt Kale] in power in Haiti for the past 11 years.” This is a blatant lie which can be readily refuted by searching my Facebook wall for these keywords: “Michel Martelly,”“Jovenel Moïse,”“LaSalin,” masak,” “PetroCaribeChallenge,” etc. Not only is this PHTK attack a lie, but it also contradicts Berrouët-Oriol’s own explicit admiration for personalities who have publicly supported PHTK such as Dany Laferrière of the Académie Française and Michaëlle Jean former Secretary General of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie. As we’ll see below, the key criterion for Berrouët-Oriol in deciding who to attack is whether or not (alleged) PHTK support aligns favorably with France’s neo-colonial geo-political interests in Haiti.

Be that as it may, MIT-Haiti’s mission is to support the education, welfare and human rights of children who should never be used as pawns in any political chessboard. This mission transcends any political party and any political boundary between the so-called “right” and “left.” Since we launched the initiative in 2010, we have made every possible effort to establish productive collaboration with as many actors as possible in the education sector in Haiti—whether in the private or public sector, including: Agence Espagnole de Coopération (AECID), Lekòl Kominotè Matènwa (LKM), American Institutes for Research (AIR), Teach for Haiti (APA), École Supérieure d’Infotronique d’Haïti (ESIH), Embajada de España en Haïti, Foi & Joie, Foundation Knowledge and Freedom (FOKAL), Global Center for the Development of the Whole Child (University of Notre Dame, Indiana), Haitian Response Coalition (HRC), Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), Kalfou Richès Haiti, Kean University, (LKM), Ministère de l’Éducation Nationale et de la Formation Professionnelle (MENFP), MIT, MIT Jameel World Education Lab, MIT OpenCourseWare, MIT Open Learning, MITx, Open Society Foundations, Primature du Gouvernement d’Haïti, Professors for Haiti (P4H Global), UNESCO, UNICEF, Université Caraïbe, Université d’État d’Haïti (Rectorate, Faculté des Sciences, École Normale Supérieure, Faculté de Linguistique Appliquée, Campus Henry Christophe Limonade), Université Quisqueya, USAID, U.S. Embassy in Haiti, Wade Foundation, World Bank, and others.

This is how we got to collaborate with the Haitian government (i.e., the Martelly / Lamothe government and with Minister Vanneur Pierre and Minister Nesmy Manigat at the Ministry of Education in 2013-2015).

In our analysis at MIT-Haiti, these collaborations—with stakeholders that are working in the education sector, especially with the Ministry of National Education—are necessary to help reinforce the capacity of national institutions and create SUSTAINABLE foundation for rightside-up schools nationwide. At MIT-Haiti we don’t think we should hold the children hostage to any fluctuating and (too often) self-serving political agendas whenever there’s a party in power that we don’t like. We must remember that it was Minister Joseph C. Bernard, during Jean-Claude Duvalier’s dictatorship, who managed to give us the educational reform program which, to date, is the most progressive curriculum framework in all of Haiti's history.

Now Lyonel Trouillot (a Haitian writer with the title “Chevalier des Lettres et des Arts” from France) and several other compatriots who call themselves “leftists” have joined forces with Berrouët-Oriol who’s accusing me of lending “public support to the neo-Duvalierist political mafia cartel PHTK [Parti Haïtien Tèt Kale] in power in Haiti.” This accusation seems due to the fact that MIT-Haiti can remain above the fray of partisan politics and engage in collaboration with the Ministry of National Education, among a variety of other stakeholders, to help improve education for all in Haiti.


Now let's highlight some additional facts and ask a few more questions that can help us further uncover the hidden agenda that motivates Berrouët-Oriol’s fraudulent PHTK-related attacks against me and against MIT-Haiti. The purpose of these questions is to invite you, Dear Reader, to analyze a series of double standards (contradictions, really) that might help reveal Berrouët-Oriol’s duplicity. The analysis of these examples can help us elucidate the ideology behind the surreptitious strategy in the defamation campaign of Berrouët-Oriol and his enablers. My analysis will also demonstrate that Berrouët-Oriol is part of a larger network of reactionary Francophiles—as expected in light of Jean Casimir’s and Philippe Richard Marius’s analyses of the linguistic dimensions of hegemony in Haiti.

From the 1990s onward, through the 2000s and until today, Noam Chomsky has expressed support for Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide (Lavalas Party). Nevertheless, in 2013–2015, Chomsky met and discuss with Laurent Lamothe about Haiti. Then, in 2016, Chomsky wrote a congratulatory blurb for Laurent Lamothe’s book “The Hands of the Prime Minister” which was published in 2021 in 4 languages—Kreyòl, French, English and Spanish. Back in 2013–2015, MIT-Haiti collaborated with the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Education toward improving STEM education in Kreyòl for Haiti. Then in 2015-2016, I myself volunteered to help Fedo Boyer and his team of professional translators at CreoleTrans in the translation and editing of the Kreyòl version of Laurent Lamothe’s book. Like Chomsky, I too was impressed by this book’s documentation, through texts and photos, of Lamothe’s work in Haiti in 2012-2014 as part of Michel Martelly’s government. The latter, in Berrouët-Oriol’s description, is a “neo-Duvalierist political mafia cartel.” Yet, the goal of Chomsky, throughout, has been to support Haiti’s efforts toward sovereignty and national wellbeing—against the will of imperialist powers, including the U.S., France and Canada. That too is my own objective as a Haitian.

Though I certainly cannot compare myself with Chomsky who is one of the most influential intellectuals of our times, I can still wonder whether Berrouët-Oriol will ask Prof. John Baugh, President of the Linguistic Society of America (LSA), to cancel Noam Chomsky’s LSA Fellowship as well? Or is it only my LSA Fellowship that Berrouët-Oriol wants cancelled?

In the meantime, if there are folks (such as Jetry Dumont of AyiboPost or Websder Corneille of RaccourSci) who object to Laurent Lamothe’s book, what they should do is to use best journalistic practices in reviewing the book’s contents. Since Widlore Merancourt, editor-in-chief of AyiboPost, also works for the Washington Post and since Websder Corneille is a spokeperson for (so called) #VulgarisationScientifique in Haiti (in French, paradoxically!), I think they could and should apply rigorous fact-checking to the book’s contents. They might even take their own photos to help readers evaluate the photos in the book. This would do the country a much greater service than their defamation campaigns on social networks.

We can also wonder:

Will Berrouët-Oriol ask the Académie Française to cancel Dany Laferrière because of Laferrière’s very public defense of former president Michel Martelly, who, along with other former politicians of “the neo-Duvalierist political mafia cartel PHTK [Parti Haïtien Tèt Kale]” (in Berrouët-Oriol’s words), has fallen under the sanctions of the Canadian government? After Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced these sanctions against Martelly and former Prime Ministers Laurent Lamothe and Jean Henry Céant, it’s Laferrière who, in a TV interview, decried the lack of due process in calling for these sanctions. I too believe that everyone deserves due process as a fundamental principle of justice. But, still, in light of Berrouët-Oriol’s view of PHTK as a “neo-Duvalierist political mafia cartel,” we must ask: Does Berrouët-Oriol still call Dany Laferrière l’ami Dany Laferrière iin light of Laferrière’s apparent allegiance to PHTK?

Will Berrouët-Oriol ask the Académie Française to cancel “l'ami Dany Laferrière” who has (and here I borrow some of Berrouët-Oriol’s hyperbolic prose) “engaged in an obscure manipulation and falsification of data” in his itinerary to the Académie Française? In this case, we’re dealing with a very public falsification and manipulation of demographic and sociolinguistic data about Haiti when Dany Laferrière declared in the French newspaper Le Monde (December 13, 2013) that he had created a bridge between Québec and Haiti which are “two countries where 10 million [!] people speak French.” The newspaper Le Monde evaluated Laferrière’s claim about French speakers in Québec and in Haiti as an “unstoppable argument” in favor of Laferrière's entry into the Académie Française. But wouldn’t such claim count as a “scurrilous manipulation” in Berrouët-Oriol’s terminology since, by our most reasonable accounts, there’s fewer than half a million speakers of French in Haiti?

Here it seems to me that, in Berrouët-Oriol’s neo-colonial double standards, the allure of Francophilia in the case of Laferrière at the Académie Française takes priority over his (Berrouët-Oriol’s) professed anti-PHTK righteousness against Michel DeGraff at Akademi Kreyòl. Or is it the sweet perfume of French hegemony that, for Berrouët-Oriol, is stronger than the foul smell of the “neo-Duvalierist political mafiosos” of PHTK? And, then, one is left to suppose that, in Berrouët-Oriol’s analyses, Laferrière’s invention of millions of French speakers in Haiti cannot be considered “scurrilous falsification”—simply due to the fact that said falsification serves French hegemony.

How about Michaëlle Jean, former Special Envoy of UNESCO in Haiti and former Secretary General of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie(OIF)? It’s well documented that Michaëlle Jean has invested time and energy in her official capacity (at UNESCO in 2010–2014 then OIF in 2015–2019) to support the PHTK government in Haiti—in the very sectors, including the education sector, that Berrouët-Oriol considers so corrupt under the leadership of what he calls “the neo-Duvalierist political mafia cartel PHTK” of the past 11 years. Won’t Berrouët-Oriol write an open letter attacking Michaëlle Jean as well. She was, indeed, “open for business” with PHTK. When she was UNESCO Special Envoy in Haiti, she (correctly, in my opinion) publicly stated her support for the PHTK education program called “Programme de scolarisation universelle gratuite et obligatoire” (PSUGO)—a program with laudable ambitious goals based on innovative financing methods that have given positive results elsewhere. Note that this is the same Michaëlle Jean who benefited from PHTK support while campaigning to become Secretary General for OIF in 2014.

And this is the same Michaëlle Jean who wrote the preface for Berrouët-Oriol and Hugues Saint-Fort's 2017 book on “the linguistic question in Haiti.” This is a preface that has given much pride to Berrouët-Oriol, despite Michaëlle Jean’s very public and very official connection with “the neo-Duvalierist political mafia cartel PHTK” (in Berrouët-Oriol’s words). In her preface for the book, Michaëlle Jean, as Secretary General of the Organization Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), asks OIF to support Haiti’s language-and-education policies. This was in 2017, under the very PHTK regime decried by Berrouët-Oriol. Yet, the same Berrouët-Oriol wrote that he too relies on OIF’s “competence and expertise” (!?!) in his plea for OIF to accompany the Haitian government!

Is it Francophilia that makes a “linguiste terminologue” contradict his self-professed “anti PHTK” stance by simultaneously and publicly supporting OIF’s hegemonic agenda through … PHTK? In Berrouët-Oriol’s and Michaëlle Jean’s colonial logic, it is OIF that must help PHTK develop a “coherent language policy” to solve “La question linguistique haïtienne.” Berrouët-Oriol seems to have forgotten that OIF, like “l’ami Laferrière,” is guilty of inventing French-speaking zombies in Haiti—4,453,567 of them in Frenand Leger’s analysis (42% of the population—quite a “scurrilous manipulation”!). Such manipulation suggests to me that OIF, whose mission is to promote the interests of France, has neither the “competence and expertise,” nor the integrity to create any language-and-education policy that could ever serve the socio-economic and political interests of Haitians as a sovereign people whose national language is Kreyòl—and definitely not French, notwithstanding the wishes of Laferrière, Hollande, Martelly, Macron, Moïse, etc. Yet, according to Berrouët-Oriol and Michaëlle Jean, it’s the zombi-making OIF that should be trusted to help PHTK establish a “coherent language policy” for Haiti.

A this rate, the data are clear: Berrouët-Oriol is not really anti-PHTK, nor is he against manipulation of any sort. But what he seems to prefer is a Francophile PHTK that can manipulate reality so that it is the French language that constitutes “Haiti’s identity,” so that it’s retired teachers from France who can help “rebuild the Haitian mentality and the Haitian man”—as Haitian President Michel Martelly proposed to French President François Hollande in 2014. Or might Berrouët-Oriol prefer a PHTK that, contrary to Haitian law, wants French as the SOLE “official language” in Haiti—as Haitian President Jovenel Moïse told French President Emmanuel Macron in 2017? Thus, when Berrouët-Oriol insults me as if I was PHTK, it’s not at all PHTK that he hates. What he really hates is the Kreyòl movement which, against all odds, is gaining grounds, including the movement’s impact on the Ministry of National Education in the PHTK government...

What about Lyonel Trouillot who has now joined Berrouët-Oriol in attacking me? Who is Lyonel Trouillot, really? Well, after Dany Laferrière and Michaëlle Jean, there’s no great change in the ideological francophile background here. Lyonel Trouillot, whom Berrouët-Oriol praises as “one of the great voices in contemporary Haitian literature,” is “Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres” for France. In keeping with hegemonic practices, L. Trouillot was one of the masterminds of the “G184” group that, with the backing of Haiti’s oligarchy in league with France, the U.S. and Canada, pushed for the coup d'état that in 2004 toppled democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide after he had asked France to pay back Haiti a well documented US$ 21 billion ransom. It’s the same L. Trouillot who launched a “Collectif NON!” protest against the bicentennial celebration of Haiti’s independence in 2004. It’s the same L. Trouillot who was head of cabinet in the Ministry of Culture and Communication of the illegitimate de facto government of President Boniface Alexandre (2004-2006). It’s the same L. Trouillot who was in solidarity with a Prime Minister (G. Latortue) who, in 2004 after Aristide’s expulsion, reassured French President Jacques Chirac that there was no need to follow up on Aristide’s demand for France to pay Haiti back the US$ 21 billion ransom, and then G. Latortue begged Chirac to please resume France’s "friendship" with Haiti. It’s the same L. Trouillot who was in solidarity with an illegitimate government that, in the bicentennial year of our independence, invited Haiti’s military occupation by UN forces (“MINUSTAH”) that brought rape and cholera, among other ills, to Haiti. It’s the same L. Trouillot who was in solidarity with an illegitimate government that abused through massacres and rapes more than 8,000 of our compatriots between 2004 and 2006. Here again, the love for French perfumes, even in the time of cholera, wins the day for Berrouët-Oriol—this time, over the foul smell of 8,000 corpses!

And when it comes to Francophilia per se, it’s the same L. Trouillot who, like Berrouët-Oriol, thinks that it’s only when all Haitians include French in their heritage that we’ll be able to preempt the ills of anti-Kreyòl prejudices in Haitian society! Wow!!! This seems to entail that the cure for the sort of anti-Kreyòl Francophilia that violates human rights in Haiti is …. MORE Francophilia! Imagine if an African-American intellectual in the U.S. were to claim that the cure to anti-Black racism in the U.S. is to ensure that whiteness becomes part and parcel of the identity of every single Black person’s heritage. Isn’t it such craving for whiteness that drives Pecola crazy in Toni Morrison’s book “The Bluest Eye”? In Lyonel Trouillot’s vision of ideal citizenship for all Haitians, it’s the neo-colonial craving for French that must be satisfied at all costs! I suppose that this enacting of self-loathing hegemony on the part of a so called “leftist” is what makes L. Trouillot “one of [Berrouët-Oriol’s] great voices…”


So, with all the above in mind, we must ask: Why is it only me, the Creolist, whom Berrouët-Oriol and his acolytes are trying to silence with their defamatory lies? Considering Berrouët-Oriol's praises for Dany Laferrière, Michaëlle Jean and Lyonel Trouillot, it’s now clear to me that his attacks are not based on any scientific, ethical, progressive or nationalistic principles.

So, now let's ask:

Could the real reason for Berrouët-Oriol’s and his acolytes’ defamation campaign be at all related to the very objective that MIT-Haiti has been aiming at, for 12 years now—namely, to break open Haiti’s centuries-old French-language barrier in order to make quality education available in Kreyòl, thus accessible to all in Haiti?

Could the real reason for this defamation be at all related to Berrouët-Oriol’s and his acolytes’ attachment to French as a fondest “war bounty” (“butin de guerre”), a war bounty that’s been waging a long attrition war against those who speak Kreyòl only—that is, the vast majority of Haitians?

Could the real reason for this defamation be at all related to Berrouët-Oriol’s belief—on a par with that of the French Ambassador in Haiti—that Haitian authorities should pursue the impossible dream of achieving Kreyòl-French “statutory parity” and “bilingualism for the equity of linguistic rights” in a country where everyone speaks Kreyòl and only a small percentage speaks French? My MIT-Haiti colleagues—William Frager and Haynes Miller—and I have shown that such objectives are part and parcel of a grand hegemonic strategy for the interests of France and of the small local élite whose children already speak French and Kreyòl.

Could the real reason for this defamation be at all related to the existential threat that MIT-Haiti, as part of an ever growing Kreyòl movement, represents for this small but powerful francophile élite that is still subservient to neo-colonial geo-political interests and to foreign medals, prizes, awards, etc. This élite, both on the right and on the left, still participates in reactionary movements that are blocking any truly progressive agenda to benefit the nation as a whole.

In this analysis, Berrouët-Oriol is only one example among many others defending a Francophile anti-nation agenda that unites intellectuals and other authorities from both the political “left” and “right,” and from all shades of skin complexion, all united against the bulk of the Kreyòl-speaking nation, as duly noted by a variety of historians, sociologists, anthropologists, etc.—most recently, by Anthropologist Philippe Richard Marius. One of the factors that link these authorities from a broad political spectrum, including certain human-rights organizations, is a set of Francophile linguistic practices that violate the linguistic rights (that is, the human rights) of most Haitians—those who are fluent in Kreyòl only.

At times this Francophilia verges on the pathological, as analyzed, for example, by literary critic Andrew Leak:

“… it is Mother France whose benign approbation is so craved by the francophone Haitian intellectuals. (Not to mention the generous artistic subsidies handed out to Haitian writers who take the ‘correct’ view of Franco-Haitian relations.) Put simply, Haitian intellectuals of the likes of Trouillot and Co. feed the images of Haiti produced in the centres of imperialist and neo-colonial power and then react to those images with pathetic gratitude (if they flatter their narcissism) or with uncontrollable fury (should they wound their narcissism)….”

This “uncontrollable fury” is instantiated in Berrouët-Oriol’s endless and obsessive attacks against myself and MIT-Haiti — attacks signed by a “linguiste terminologue” allegedly speaking on behalf of “the community of Haitian linguists” while most of his productions are in French, on French, and for the benefit of French speakers. This is yet another set of data points that should help unveil the anti-Kreyòl Francophile underpinnings of Berrouët-Oriol’s true agenda.


Socio-linguistics and best practices for quality education in Haiti, together with respect for human rights, require the valorization of Kreyòl as the national language and as the foundation of knowledge, freedom and justice in Haiti. In fact, there are far fewer than 4 million, and far FAR fewer than 10 million, speakers of French among 12 millions Haitians in Haiti—except in the “scurrilous manipulations” of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) and “l’ami Laferrière”! In various estimates, the number of French-speaking Haitians in Haiti does not exceed half a million. That’s why we at MIT-Haiti have continued to offer our support to Haiti’s Ministry of National Education (MENFP). Indeed we stand at the ready to collaborate with the MENFP and other such institutions because we believe that Haiti’s socio-economic development and political sovereignty depend on strong national institutions and a strong civil society—thus the need for access to quality education in the one language that all Haitians speak (namely, Kreyòl). This is one basic reason why we @MITHaiti keep engaging with all these institutions—including the Ministry of National Education.

In any case, let's remember the aphorism: “Truth is like oil in water” (in Kreyòl, “Verite se kon lwil nan dlo”). So we hope that the answers to the questions in this article will eventually rise up, as we’ve already asked some of these questions to Berrouët-Oriol and are still awaiting answers.

At the end, the most FUNDAMENTAL questions are:

Which side are you on? The elitist hegemonic anti-Kreyòl side with its destructive, carping nay-saying, without any concrete and constructive contributions for Haiti’s future? Or the progressive inclusive side with its constructive and synergistic alliances that are moving the needle forward on important and practical questions of language-and-education practices and policies toward justice and human rights for all in Haiti?

And also, considering that 40% of the world’s children are still deprived of education in their home language, the contributions of MIT-Haiti toward inclusive education in Haiti’s national language can serve as a model for other communities who are still being impoverished through linguistic discrimination rooted in colonial hegemony.

So let's hope that the “linguiste terminologue” will stop this seemingly endless cycles of copy-paste of the same invectives to attack MIT-Haiti every week. And why all these articles in French, excluding Kreyòl, in spite of Berrouët-Oriol’s loftily stated desire for French-Kreyòl “statutory parity” and “bilingualism for the equity of linguistic rights” in Haiti? Perhaps one day he will invest a minimum of effort in helping with the production of technical vocabulary and other helpful resources in Kreyòl—toward the “parité linguistique” and “equity” he says he’s looking for...

In the meantime, the MIT-Haiti team continues to collaborate, tirelessly, with colleagues near and far, in the co-creation of didactic materials and other resources in Creole—for rightside-up schools for all learners in Haiti, in order to build sustainable foundations for a rightside-up country.

Well, that's why “... the [MIT-Haiti] caravan passes...” with serenity and that’s why our MIT-Haiti team continues to work to spread knowledge and hope in the national language. Indeed, we should not let fraudulent ad hominen attacks distract us from our mission to open up quality education for all, and we simply don’t have the time and energy to keep up with Berrouët-Oriol’s non-stop slander—that’s why this response is as exhaustive as possible so the bases of this polemic, especially Berrouët-Oriol’s preference for defamation over constructive feedback, can be clarified once and for all. If the “linguiste terminologue” wants to debate us on professional grounds, he should share his expertise in scientific journals where we’ll consider his analyses—especially if he can make CONCRETE contributions to the linguistic description of Kreyòl or to its vocabulary.

There’s no room for impostors and demagogues in the Kreyòl movement which is a movement toward total liberation against centuries-old colonial and neo-colonial forces both inside and outside Haiti. We @MITHaiti are too busy working with colleagues, near and far, on producing high-quality resources for rightside-up schools, for a rightside-up country. We do welcome contributions from all Kreyòl-speaking or Kreyòl-loving educators, based on their interests and capacities, including those with well-proven expertise in linguistics and terminology.


 Viré monté