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In this sentence:

“Baker came back. He had pressed his number 3 onto the right breast of his shirt. “Did he say anything to you?” Garraty asked. “He asked me if it was commencing to come off hot down home,” Baker said shyly. “Yeah, he . . . the Major talked to me.” “Not as hot as it’s gonna commence getting up here,” Olson cracked.

Excerpt from The Long Walk

is "come off hot down home" a whole phrase or are "come off" and "down home" separate expressions?

If the later is the case, would the meaning change if I were to write “He asked me if it was growing hot home?”

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  • 3
    Please give the source of the quotation, and/or some indication of the circumstances. Dec 22 '21 at 8:38
  • Ngrams reports nothing for "come off hot down home".
    – gotube
    Dec 22 '21 at 8:43
  • Your rephrasing would make perfect sense if you made it, "He asked me if it was growing hot down home", but I don't know if that's the meaning of "come off".
    – gotube
    Dec 22 '21 at 8:45
  • 3
    Hi Ray. Your sentence is extremely strange and highly non-idiomatic. It seems to be a strange mix of words, with no clear meaning. Unless you can tell us some more context, I don't think you will get a very useful answer.
    – James K
    Dec 22 '21 at 9:22
  • @gotube This is a case that helps showing ngrams are often not reliable. This sentence can be found in Stephen King's The long walk (published 1979). The sentence can be understood in context but I agree OP doesn't give any.
    – None
    Dec 22 '21 at 10:23
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Indeed "come off" and "down home" have to be understood separately. But in order to understand the sentence you really have to look at the whole context. And bear in mind that Baker, who is saying those words, isn't very educated and doesn't always speak "standard English" (hence the comments of the sentence being "extremely strange and highly non-idiomatic.")

Your understanding of the sentence is roughly correct. You are missing the "down" part though. They are in Maine at the start of the Long Walk, i.e. in the North of the US. The question was asked to Baker (by the Major) who is from Louisiana, i.e. "down South" from where they are. The major asked Baker if the weather was beginning to be hot down South where he is from.

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  • In that case, if Baker were from the north like somewhere in Canada, the major could have asked if the weather was growing hot up home instead?
    – Ray
    Dec 22 '21 at 11:19
  • @Ray The example is not very good since they are at the Canadian border, ;-) but yes in Baker's words we could have a sentence like "come off cold up home" (and cold rather than hot, it usually gets colder as you go up North in the northern hemisphere.
    – None
    Dec 22 '21 at 12:51

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