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" We're trying to teach the kids that its time and place is not in the standard English world of formal essays or debates." But the crunch for MLE could come when its adherents move out of their close-knit teen community and enter the dialect-levelling world of adulthood.

"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.

You're looking buff in them low batties.""Check the creps," says the other. Nobody wants to be uncool," he adds, with a shudder. Researchers have found that, while most traditional cockney speech patterns have followed traditional cockneys as they've migrated out to Essex and Kent and other points beyond the M25, teenagers in inner London, one of the world's most ethnically diverse areas, are forging a separate multi-ethnic youth-speak based on common culture rather than ethnic or social background.

Population make-up would be a factor, as well as what some linguists would call 'neighbour opposition' with its arch-rival Manchester.

It's a question of identity." Kerswill believes that levellings versus solidarities will have a bearing on the future of MLE.

They all dress the same and they all speak the same." The rise of MLE is happening at a time when Kerswill and his team are seeing a general trend across the UK toward dialect levelling - the process whereby people in different parts of the country sound more and more like each other as their local accents and dialects die out and everyone, from the Prime Minister downwards, speaks a form of elided-vowel Estuary English.

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