How do you differentiate this from "Minority people do not work" which, while a clumsy way to put it in English, is much closer to what the sentence appears to say in Polish?
You mean people of ethnic/religious/etc. minorities? Well, that would rather need specifying the minority, because that's not an idea which is in wide use in Poland and our language, we're a very homogenous country. I'd say for example "Marsjanie w Polsce nie pracują" (Martians in Poland do not work).
I agree that the Polish sentence is weird, it's just hard to find a context to use the word 'minority', obviously it would be more natural to say that "The majority of people does work", because that's basically what the sentence means, it's just written from a totally different side.
I think the reason the sentence sounds clumsy is that it reads like a double negative, in that it combines the concept of "minority" with a negation, causing the reader to do some unnecessary mental gymnastics.
Exactly, on top of the fact that some other normal Polish negations look like double-negatives but are translated to English as normal single-negatives. This sentence makes it even more confusing.
By "martians", do you mean aliens? A martian implies someone from outerspace (from Mars), whereas alien can be an immigrant. Would "Marsjanie" still be an accurate word to use in Polish?
Yes, I literally meant Martians from the planet Mars in order to minimize the threat of offending anyone ;)
Not that I care about political correctness, but in such a sentence that I wrote, using any real group would be offensive :)
To your question Rowanas, from a grammatical standpoint the word minority in those two sentences are different. In "a minority of people", minority is a noun, whereas in "minority people", minority is an adjective. I'm just learning Polish so I'm not an authority on the language, but according to Wiktionary, mniejszość is a noun, so probably could not be used to form the meaning you specified. Also, the form of the word ludzie in the sentence is "ludzi" which is Genitive and gives the meaning "of people" rather than just "people". If you were to say "minority people", the word people would have to be Nominative ("Ludzie").