I understand that the reasons for some variations to be divided into two separate langauges and others to just be divided into different dialects are really more political. In the case of German, the dialect which was spoken in the north, Plattdeutsch, is completely unintelligible to someone who speaks standard German or High German. It’s my understanding that the German government has recognized Plattdeutsch as a separate language, but that was only about 10 years ago, so for most of it’s history, it was considered just a dialect of German.
When you cross the border into the Netherlands, the language they speak is just another variation of the West Germanic language. This is also unintelligible to anyone who speaks standard German, but isn’t very different from Plattdeutsch (I have been told by people who can understand Plattdeutsch and live near the border, that they can understand Dutch). Of course, because the Netherlands is a separate country, their dialect is considered a separate language.
So, why isn’t Swiss German also considered a separate language? It is unintelligible to someone who speaks standard German (I have seen movies in Swiss German with subtitles in standard German, not to mention German people telling me they can’t understand Swiss German) and they’re a separate country.
Thanks for your replies.