National multilingualism, the use of different language codes by substantial segments of the population of a country, is a well-recognized phenomenon, and a number of lines of research on it are currently being pursued. A less well-recognized socio-linguistic phenomenon is the coexistence within a nation of different approaches to the acquisition of literacy, not in the limited sense of different methods of instruction within a single framework of national purpose but in the sense of fundamentally different patterns which represent different aims, utilize different methods, tend to apply to different segments of the population, and have different outcomes. Thus, in a given nation there may be a contrast between a ‘traditional’ literacy with its goals and procedures, on the one hand, and a ‘modern’ literacy with different goals and procedures, on the other. Or a nation with a predominant and universally acknowledged pattern of literacy may have a different pattern, followed by a religious minority or by the majority but as a supplementary literacy for particular religious purposes. This phenomenon of national diversity in styles of literacy is the subject matter of the present paper.