Can „Wysocy ludzie” also mean “A tall people”? This is a way of describing an cultural or ethnic group in English that I would naturally try to say with „Wysocy ludzie” and similar constructions, but it was marked wrong. Is it?
The noun is actually singular when used this way, but it's spelled the same, so it's confusing. It means a singular type of specific people, as an entire group, such as a nationality or ethnicity. “Norwegians are a tall people,” for example, or “Americans are a proud people.” You see a similar construction (a definite article with singuar “people”) in “The people of this land.”
It's an uncommon construction in English, but does get used often enough that my first assumption when seeing „Wysocy ludzie” was ”A tall people”, not ”Tall people.”
I haven't seen it either (neither would I perceive "people" in "The people of this land" as a singular word), but I get what you are trying to say. In this sense Polish might use the word „naród” which is equivalent of English „nation”.
EDIT: „Lud” suggested by immery also works.
Thank you! These and the replies below by mihxal, immery, and Emwue have been very instructive. Having separate words (or as below, a different word order) to mean approximately what ”a people“ means in English is quite sensible of Polish, and much less ambiguous than how English does it. :) Dziękuje wam!
I haven't seen it earlier and course creators probably either. In Polish "ludzie" is plural.
Well yes, it's plural. The questions is can „Wysocy ludzie” in Polish ever mean an entire ethnicity is tall, or if it can only mean a bunch of people are tall. Since „Dobrzy ludzie” can mean “The good people”, which in English is sometimes the same as ”A good people”, it seems like „Wysocy ludzie” could/should also mean ”The tall people” or ”A tall people”.
"Ludzie" doesn't specify how many people there are so it could be even the whole population. But if we want to treat a group of people as a whole, we would rather use "ludność", "lud" or "naród".
Only if you change the order and put noun before adjective:
(Ci) Norwegowie to wysocy ludzie = (These particular) Norwegians are tall people
Norwegowie to ludzie wysocy = (all) Norwegians are tall people = Norwegians are a tall people
Other than that, as immery, mixal and Vengir already pointed you can use words like "lud", "naród" or "ludność".