Sure, it's okay to be a prig sometimes.
And I mean that.
It's everyone's right, and we don't really need to use the word, "prig", either. We have the right to express an unpopular opinion.
And it's also okay to try to understand your friends.
Let's try to understand.
Why is it called swearing?
If your religion admits to the ten commandments given to Moses, you will note that it doesn't say, "Don't swear!"
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
The following is not a Bible lesson, it's a bit of history on the reason we call this particular mode of emphatic speech "swearing", and "profane".
Invoking the name of deity used to be roughly equivalent to what signing a contract is now. (Roughly.) It was a strong assertion of the will to do something, or not to do something.
There's more to it than this, but I don't want to spoil the discovery for you. Study it out in your own history books and/or scriptures, and you will find much better answers than you will get here.
But remember to think while you do so. Thinking is where you get the answers. (And if you are inclined towards religion, an attitude of prayer can help the thinking processes.)
So, what is profanity? What does profane mean?
I'll skip a bit, leave you to discover that one, as well, and tell you some of my opinions. I am told I must not skip this or I will be making this a bible lesson.
To understand the meaning of the word profanity, we need to understand the word, "sacred". It's a word common to many religions and philosophies. The word sacred means "set apart" from the things of ordinary life. We use the word "special" these days to mean much the same thing. It's just not quite as strong in meaning.
The verb, "profane" pretty much means to take things which are sacred -- special -- and use them where they don't belong. As an adjective, it indicates things which have been used where they don't belong.
"Inappropriate" is a word that we commonly use to mean something very similar, although it is not as strong a word.
Profanity, when talking about language, basically means language used inappropriately -- well, language used really inappropriately.
Inappropriate language is inappropriate for several reasons. Let me see if I can describe why, and show some examples of appropriate use in the process.
I had a teacher who, when a student used a strong word for fecal matter, would sometimes respond by looking around at the floor or ground and saying,
Where? Don't step in it!
Not all the time, just sometimes. I think he was trying to help the students understand that the words meant more than just,
I'm old enough to feel strongly about something and assert my opinions.
People don't mean that there is fecal matter somewhere when they say those words. They are generally referring, consciously or otherwise, to an old proverb about the dung hitting the fan. (Did you know they had fans in cow barns thousands of years ago? ;)
Picture the farmer clearing the floor of the cow barn with a shovel, and a load poorly tossed getting into the fan. This is an archetypical metaphor for the after effects of working when you are tired, or of being careless.
Such use could also be a reference to the older version of the proverb,
Bad stuff happens.
The reason the words are inappropriate is that they say more and less than what we mean. They do not communicate very much, other than that strong emotions are being verbally asserted.
Of course, if we are going to use these words, we should (like some of my farmer friends) use them when we are talking about dung, etc.
But if we are going to use them as strong metaphors, we should generally limit them to only when things are going to be really, really bad and everybody's going to be blasted by the flying aftereffects.
Except that overuse is another problem. For instance, I complain about a certain software vendor, but it has become so common to complain about the software vendor that no one hears the real meaning. So I don't complain about that software vendor nearly as much as they deserve any more. People misunderstand me if I do.
The overuse of the complaint undermines the meaning.
So, we probably should not use words profanely even when the situation calls for strong words. People will likely think we are just trying to be cool.
As a different kind of example of how words can be inappropriately used, and how they can be appropriately used, I'll offer this thought:
Sometimes, especially when I am driving by myself, someone cuts too tightly in front of me, and I find that strong words come unbidden to my tongue.
Now, I have learned (but still sometimes forget) to remind myself that I don't want the driver in front of me to suffer the wrath of God, and that I don't particularly intend to violently and sexually assault the driver, and that I don't really thing the driver's car is full of fecal matter.
So I take a deep breath and think what I really mean.
If I were talking directly to them, I would say something like,
Please look, and at least signal first.
And, even though they can't hear, I find that I am much better off saying what I mean, instead of being lazy and invoking the wrath of God or whatever. Anger, and the desire to use strong words, disappears while I am putting my frustrations into real words because, even though I can't communicate my frustrations with the driver, I can communicate my frustrations to myself.
And, in taking the time to think, I have time to respond to their dangerous driving, and remember that I'd rather arrive alive than be dead right in my opinions of their driving.
So, if you were sitting beside me in the car on the (hopefully rare) occasion when I turn loose with some inappropriate language, you might say something like,
At any rate, we don't want that to happen while we are behind them. By the way, could that be your wife's little brother driving that car?
Your friends may not know this strategy. But now you have seen it.
Be careful how you say things like this to your friends. Make it a joke. Don't be critical. Smile, and be careful not to sneer. Remember that, while you want them to be able to say what they mean more effectively because you know that will make them happier, those kinds of changes have to come at their pace, not yours.
So, be creative, and set a good example.