I'm really confused about this sentence. As far as I can tell it's made up of 'me emme kai' which means ' I hope we are not' and 'vaan häiritse'. I just don't understand how 'vaan häiritse' comes from häiritä - would a kind finn please tell me how is this phrase made up? Thank you!
This sort of thing delves into the kind of territory that would ideally be worried about after getting the basics covered, because grasping it is more about having a feel for the quirks of the language rather than semantics or grammar. When taken out of context "kai" can be translated to words like "perhaps", "maybe" and "probably", and when "vaan" is taken out of context, it can be translated to "but rather" and it can also be a colloquial form of "vain", which can be translated to words like "only", "just", "merely" and "exclusively". The latter form is what this particular instance of "vaan" is. But like I said, semantics hardly plays a role in making sense of their roles in this sentence, because their usage in this case is idiomatic. In order to understand it properly, you would need to have a grasp of the intricacies of how tone can be modified with various words and particles, so it's tricky to explain it to an outsider looking in, but I'll give it a try.
When a negation is followed by "kai", it can function in a similar way as the word "surely" can sometimes function in combination with a negation, such as in "Surely you can't be serious?". In other words, it can be used as an additional element in framing something as undesirable and/or unlikely. In "Emme kai me vaan häiritse", the speaker is using "kai" to frame the disturbance as an undesirable thing. In other contexts, it can be used to frame something as unlikely, for example in "Ei kai se nyt niin vaikeaa voi olla", which can be translated to "It can't be that hard".
"Vaan" is even trickier to explain. It seems that you've studied German at least a little bit, so maybe it will help to point out that it's in a similar class of words as the "filler words" from German, such as "mal". They are thrown around here and there to give the speech a certain type of flair, such as in "komm mal her!". In that particular example, the usage of "mal" is very similar to the usage of "vaan" as a flair word, since the Finnish translation could be "tule vaan tänne!". In English, it can be translated to something like "come on over!". It's difficult to describe exactly what kind of flair the "vaan" gives in "Emme kai me vaan häiritse?", since it has a rather subtle effect which also varies somewhat depending on the context, but the more you observe the usage of that kind of "vaan" and other similar filler elements in real world usage, the better you'll understand them. Nobody ever told me how German filler words work, but I've seen them in use so much that at some point it all just clicked in my brain. Their Finnish equivalents can be very similar, although they are often in the form of a suffix.
I noticed someone downvoted the sentence. One of the moderators explained why you should never do that, because the sentence could become untraceable i.e. the language volunteers will no longer be able to find the sentence. I upvoted the sentence to zero. If you want the sentence to attract attention, upvote it so it will get a higher priority.
P.S. I do not know the details of how it works, but once you understand that down-voting a sentence is bad for the development of the course, it kind of sticks with you. Maybe a moderator can explain exactly why down-voting a sentence is a bad idea.
It's an idiomatic use of the word "kai" (probably, perhaps), which presents the speaker's perspective. I have seen it in a variety of sentences with different English translations that usually involve the speaker's pov: I hope, I guess, I suppose, I think - depending on the main verb and the context. So in Finnish, the first person singular does not have to be present as it is implied.
Some examples from my dictionary:
kyllä kai: I guess so
ei kai hän kauan viivy: I don't think he'll stay long
pitää kai lähteä: I suppose we must go
As Kristian and others, including me, have pointed out, this is more about semantics than grammar. There is no question word per se, so in that sense you're right, there shouldn't be a question mark, but…
Let's take first the English sentence "How do you do". It is formed like a question, but usually you don't expect a truthfull answer. The formal answer is to repeat the sentence, a less formal would be something like "Very well, thank you".
In contrast the Finns generally don't use such empty phrases, partly because we valuate one's personal space a lot and asking such questions would be felt like intrusions into one's private life. Therefore before interrupting one you ask if they mind being interrupted.
Let's take a real life example. My wife and I go to see our neighbours, who we know very well. They live a couple of houses away, at a very short walking distance. When entering their yard we see, that the neighbouring couple is sitting by a table in their garden. Even when we know them well and seeing that they are not clearly occupied by anything, a following dialog will take place:
Emme kai vaan häiritse?
Ei, ette häiritse, tulkaa vaan : No, you're not interrupting anything, plese enter, (the most likely answer)
- Itse asiassa kyllä : Well, in fact yes
Which they may complete with a reason or leave it untold. In any case we should not felt offended and leave the yard quickly.
- Selvä, palataan toiste : Ok, see you later [lit.: Let's get back to the matter later]
So Emme kai vaan häiritse? is for all practical purposes a real question for which you expect a real answer.
There wouldn’t be any difference. ”Kai” does not explicitly express any person. The English translation tries to render the idea conveyed by the finish adverb + context and just assumes that the speaker expresses their personal opinion and as such ”I” is a bit more likely/logical.
Would you actually use ”we hope” in a situation where a group of people interrupts somebody else? I don’t think I ever would.
Imagine a group of people entering a room together, where there are already some people (e.g. a sports hall); it would be natural for the spokesperson of the group to state to those already in the hall "We hope that we are not disturbing you". It might even sound menacing ;)
Good. So if I were coming alone, I would say
- En kai vaan häiritse?
but here me : we, shows that I'm not alone.
As Kristian explained, translating this into English is more about other things that straight grammar. Jileha has a good point, try to render the idea conveyed, not to translate word by word.
If you read the comments by Kristian and me, you will notice that this exercise is very much about how speakers of the languages express things differently rather than how to directly translate between the languages. I am not sufficiently versed in English to say, whether one person speaking in the name of a group should be expressed by "we".
"I hope that we ... " and "We hope that we ... " are interchangeable, to my mind. I guess it depends on the speaker as to whether they want to act as a group spokesperson or not.
My issue is with the word "disturbing" ending the sentence - it's very awkward and brings the sentence to a shuddering halt. Hence my suggestion of "We're not interrupting, are we?" to get the verb away from the end (and include two WEs).