I think most of us have heard the story that German almost became the national language of the United States. If you haven't heard it, the basic story is that at the time of American independence, German was spoken by many more people, and that either the Continental Congress or the US Congress (depending on the version of the story you hear) voted on whether English or German should be the national language. English, goes the story, won by a slim margin. (The linked story is more colorful than the version I learned as a kid)
I am reminded of this because I found out this evening that there is a similar story for China. There, the question was between Mandarin and Cantonese, but again: up for vote by a new revolutionary government, very narrow victory.
I just thought that was entertaining.