"Don't laugh at a youth for his affectations," said the US essayist Logan Pearsall Smith.
"He is only trying on one face after another, to find a face of his own." Over the years, the faces have included provocations ranging from skinheads to hoodies, but the advent of MLE is believed to mark the first time that teenagers have consciously used language to stake out their own territory ("I can't understand a word he's saying sometimes," bemoans Gus's mother, in perfect following-the-script style).
"You can hear this music on a national basis," says (omega) G Money, a DJ at 1Xtra, the BBC's urban radio station.
"It's not something you have to search for on the pirate networks any more. I was in Watford recently and the kids there were no different to the ones you see in London.
"My bluds say the skets round here are nuff deep." "Wasteman," responds the first, with alacrity. Multiculturalism may have become a political hot potato for everyone from Daily Mail leader writers to Trevor Phillips, but anyone passing a metropolitan playground will realise that, linguistically at least, the melting-pot patois is already a reality from Tooting to Tower Hamlets.
This has led some in the media to invoke Ali G and Radio 1 DJ and "wigga" Tim Westwood, and dub the patois Jafaican, though Fox points out that Indian, West African, and even Australian slang (nang is an Aussie term, as is dag, meaning uncool) are just as much in evidence, as are new variants - saying raaait in lieu of right, for instance - whose origin remains obscure.
A 'perfect storm' of conditions has seen teen slang from inner-city London spread across the country. And, if you can't stop kids from speaking it, is there any way to decipher what the words mean? "You just begging now." The pair exit the vehicle, to blank stares of incomprehension. "It is likely that young people have been growing up in London exposed to a mixture of second-language English and varieties of English from other parts of the world, as well as local London English, and that this new variety has emerged from that mix," says Sue Fox, a language expert from London University's Queen Mary College, who's in the middle of a three-year project called Linguistics Innovators: The Language of Adolescents in London, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.
At the back of a London bus, two teenagers are engaged in animated conversation. Later, this dialogue is related to Gus, a 13-year-old who attends an inner London comprehensive; he wastes no time in decoding it. Fox and her colleagues have studied the speech patterns of a sample of teenagers across the capital.
"Local accents - what we call dialect solidarity - tend to s urvive in close-knit communities, most of which are working class.
It's interesting, for example, that Liverpool seems to be getting more scouse.