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In the Disney movie "Frozen" (je croix que la version francaise s'appelle "La Reine des neiges"), there is a song with a refrain of "libérée, délivrée".

I understand the translation is "liberated, delivered". However, when I first heard this song, without seeing the spelling, I heard "libérez, délivrez". The translation for this being (imperative) "liberate, deliver".

I think these are pronounced identically. Is there sound difference I'm not aware of?

If pronounced identically, is there something else which prevents the ambiguity? Would a French person immediately understand the meaning is "libéré(e)" and not "libérez"? If so, why?

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The two sound exactly the same. Only the context can help to determine wich is wich. Here it is clearly "libérée" because the girl is singing how she is liberated and freed from her past, and not giving commands to liberate someone (or herself). At least it is how I understand it :D

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  • Perhaps my perception is influenced by the English version, which is in fact imperative ("let it go"). – BetterSense Mar 3 at 17:26
  • @BetterSense Yeah, there's no one to give orders to. If she was talking to herself she's use tu, not vous. I don't think any native French speaker would understand it as "libérez, délivrez" ^^ – Teleporting Goat Mar 4 at 9:52
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    On top of that, the 2 verbs are transtitive, and it would be awkward to give an order libérez or délivrez without an object. I imagine that if someone would tell a native speaker "délivrez!", his/her reaction would be "d'accord, mais qui dois-je délivrer ?" (same with the verb libérer) – Greg Mar 4 at 10:22
  • Nevertheless there is a case of a well-known song using the imperative: Allumez le feu ! – yannis Mar 15 at 12:16
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In isolation, the words are pronounced identically. However, in context, there may be a liaison after the vous forms. Also, while not the case here, in classical singing (and occasionally in other types too), the e muet may be pronounced. For example, the listener in "Vainement ma bien-aimée" knows that Mylio is referring to a female beloved, not just because that is typical of the context and because ma is used, but also because he hears /bjɛ̃.nɛ.me.ə/. In such a situation, it would be relatively easy to distinguish between the feminine past participle and the vous form.

The forms can instead be distinguished by context:

  • There is no vous that is previously addressed.

  • The next line is Je ne mentirai plus jamais, so it would seem that Elsa is referring to herself.

(It is entirely reasonable that one may not be able to identify a word until further context is given later. That is often how we distinguish between homophones or how we decide which of the multiple meanings of a word is applicable to a situation.)

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  • I just realized that my example is not the best because we already have ma to indicate gender, so I may replace it when I can recall a better one. – Maroon Mar 3 at 21:02

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