His knowledge of French, German, modern Greek and especially Italian stood him in good stead, and he added constantly to that stock of information by studying Hebrew, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Finnish and other tongues.
1902 - Graduates from University College with a degree in modern languages (proficiency in Latin, Italian, French, German, and literary Norwegian)
In a typical 1928 explanatory letter to Weaver, he points out puns in Norwegian, German, Old English, Latin, Italian, French, Polish, and German... Declan Kiberd, another critic, believes Joyce's deteriorating vision led to an increased substitution of a "sentient ear for an imperial eye," resulting in what Joyce himself called "a jetsam litterage of convulvuli of times lost or strayed, of lands derelict and tongues laggin' too." More directly, he told one friend "I'm at the end of English."
I forgot to tell you another thing. I don't even know Greek though I am spoken of as erudite. My father wanted me to take Greek as third language, my mother German and my friends Irish. Result, I took Italian. I spoke or used to speak modern Greek not too badly (I speak four or five languages fluently enough) and have spent a great deal of time with Greeks of all kinds from noblemen down to onionsellers, chiefly the latter. I am superstitious about them. They bring me luck.