An autonomous language will usually have grammar books, dictionaries and literature written in it. Autonomy is largely a sociopolitical construct rather than a result of specific linguistic differences.
Examples of languages that have previously been considered to be autonomous but are now sometimes considered heteronomous are: the Occitan, sometimes thought of as a dialect of French; Cebuano, usually thought of as a dialect or variety of Tagalog or Filipino; and Low Saxon, occasionally considered to be a dialect of German.
See also 
- Trudgill, P. (1992) "Ausbau sociolinguistics and the perception of language status in contemporary Europe" in International Journal of Applied Linguistics. Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 167-177
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