James Joyce’s Ulysses has been notorious as a “dirty book” from the moment of its appearance. It was banned on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean for its supposed obscenity and even Joyce’s experimental peers were shocked by its indecent language. Yet Joyce’s earlier works, Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, are almost completely free of obscene language and dirty words. This essay suggests that this profound change in style can be explained, at least in part, by Joyce’s increased involvement with Italian in the decade he spent in Pola and Trieste. During that time, Joyce became thoroughly bilingual in Italian and English and, as I will try to show, being bilingual can completely alter the way in which one uses language, especially with regard to its affective connotations in general and to the use of what are considered “taboo words” in particular.