Gloria Bien (who has been teaching Mandarin for more than forty years [she was my first-year teacher]) heard this sentence at lunch yesterday: Zhù nǐ yīgè hǎo xīnqíng 祝你一个好心情 ("[I] wish you a good mood"). She remarked:
I was stunned. How can anyone wish a good mood on me? But our intern, a native Chinese fresh from Beijing in August, declared that this is actually said, as an equivalent to "Have a nice day."
Zhù nǐ yīgè hǎo xīnqíng 祝你一个好心情 ("[I] wish you a good mood"; lit., wish you one m.w. [measure word] good mood]) strikes me the same way it did Gloria: I find it to be an odd locution in Mandarin. Yet her language intern, a native speaker fresh from Beijing last month, affirms that it is actually said and is equivalent to "Have a nice / good day." The disparity between the intern's assurance and the uncomfortable reaction of Gloria and me prompted me to ask a number of other native speakers their opinion on this sentence.
Some of them asserted that it is weird or absolutely unidiomatic and that they would never say it. Some of them confessed that they often use this expression and do not feel it to be strange at all. Others said that they use it, but with the addition of a yǒu 有 ("have"): 祝你有一个好心情 ("[I] wish you have a good mood"). Among those who avowed that they use the latter formulation, some said they felt a little uneasy doing so, while others felt that it was a perfectly good Mandarin sentence.
Jiajia Wang, a native Beiijinger who heads the Middlebury School in Kunming, Yunnan, China exclaimed:
It's very odd!! it's Zhonglish!
Wish you a good mood there….
Considering the way Zhonglish has a way of washing back into English ("gung ho", "running dog", "paper tiger", etc.), perhaps it won't be long before native speakers of English will be saying "Wish you a good mood" to each other.
This is especially the case since many people are tired of telling each other to have a good day. According to the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs:
Have a nice day. and Have a good day.; Have a nice one.; Have a good one.
Cliché an expression said when parting or saying good-bye. (This is now quite hackneyed, and many people are annoyed by it.)
Clerk: Thank you. Tom: Thank you. Clerk: Have a nice day.
Bob: See you, man! John: Bye, Bob. Have a good one!
Since there was such a wide diversity of opinions on this current expression — Zhù nǐ yīgè hǎo xīnqíng 祝你一个好心情 ("[I] wish you a good mood") — among my initial group of informants, I asked some more native speakers, poked around on the web a bit, and came up with the following additional variants (this list is by no means exhaustive):
Zhù nǐ hǎo xīnqíng 祝你好心情
Zhù nǐ xīnqíng hǎo 祝你心情好
Zhù nǐ yǒu gè hǎo xīnqíng 祝你有个好心情
Zhù nǐ tiāntiān doū yǒu hǎo xīnqíng 祝你天天都有好心情
(tiāntiān 天天 means "every day", doū 都 means "all")
Zhù nǐ tiāntiān yǒu gè hǎo xīnqíng 祝你天天有个好心情
Zhù nǐ tiāntiān hǎo xīnqíng 祝你天天好心情
Pulling all of this together, I come to the conclusion that these expressions are based upon the ubiquitous English formulaic expression that I've already mentioned above: "Have a good day!" As such, they are a sort of awkward "translatese" that is still in the process of being absorbed into Mandarin and have not yet become standardized or fully accepted by all native speakers.
As to how "good day" has become transformed into "good mood", it is simply unthinkable in Mandarin to say "have / possess a day" in the sense of "enjoy the rest of your day". I further hypothesize that those variants with tiāntiān 天天 ("every day") represent an unconscious attempt to retain the notion of "day" in the Mandarin version of the expression.
Lest I be accused of giving too much weight to English in the development of such spoken Mandarin civilities, I would direct doubting Thomases to this article by Mary S. Erbaugh: "China expands its courtesy: Saying 'Hello' to Strangers," The Journal of Asian Studies, 67.2 (May, 2008),621-652.
Here is the abstract:
Courtesy reveals fundamental judgments about who merits respect. Traditional Chinese courtesy rests on lifelong hierarchical bonds that are too clear to require constant verbal reinforcement. But strangers, women, peasants, migrant workers, and others often do not merit face work because they lack status, fall outside the network of insiders, or are politically taboo. Until very recently, European-style equivalents of “hello,” “please,” “thanks,” “sorry,” or “goodbye” existed only in impersonal-sounding translations restricted to brief contacts with foreigners. As Beijing steps back from the socialist revolution, it is promoting these “five courteous phrases” (ni hao, qing, dui bu qi, xiexie, zai jian) to expand courtesy to universal, reciprocal greetings. Popular acceptance of this “verbal hygiene” is spreading via rapid, urban service encounters in which one's connections are unknown. In this way, China's self-identity as an “advanced civilization” is being retooled in international terms.
The intricate intertwining of English and Chinese is a wonder to behold.
[A tip of the hat to Haitao Tang, Maiheng Dietrich, Mien-hwa Chiang, Gianni Wan, Jing Wen, Rebecca Fu, Lala Zuo, Liwei Jiao, and Yunong Zhou]