"People do not live in this city."
Translation:В этом городе люди не живут.
I had В этом городе не живут люди not accepted.
Just before I wrote В этом городе много людей живёт for Many people live in this city. and it wasn't accepted, the correct translation being В этом городе живёт много людей.
In the latter example I see that more stress is put on many people but I would assume that my solution should be correct - though with more stress on people.
Maybe I do not really understand the rules for word order, if someone could shed some light on it, that would be great.
English and Russian have a different way of emphasizing words: In Russian, words are placed at the end of the sentence to emphasize it. But in English, this is not possible because the word order is very rigid. So instead, English uses stress to indicate emphasis.
In the sentence “I ate an apple”, the new information stated is “apple”. Because of this, “apple” is slightly more stressed than the other words.
I ate an [apple] = Я ем [яблоко]
However, in the sentence “I saw him”, the natural default stress would be on the word “saw”. This is because using pronouns indicate that you have mentioned them before, which means they are not new information. The new information here is seeing the person.
I [saw] him = я его [вижу]
If you want to emphasize the word “him”, then just change the stress in the English sentence and change the order in the Russian one.
I saw [HIM] = Я вижу [его]
So, in your example, “В этом городе не живут люди” means “PEOPLE do not live in this city”. It’s not wrong, but it sounds weird because you’re indirectly saying there are other creatures that live in the city, which is a rare sentence to say. The more natural one would be: People do not [live] in this city = В этом городе люди не [живут].
I think the English sentence is strange to begin with (by definition cities are places where people lived) and I understood it exactly as meaning that the city is not inhabited by people (but something else; either it is ruined and taken over by nature, or else the speaker views those who live there as subhuman).