The word "problem" can also mean "a difficulty."
The word "difficult" can also mean "problematic."
In the Deaf world you will see the signs PROBLEM and DIFFICULT are used
interchangeably by most people, but I will suggest to you that there are slight
differences between the two signs and as such I will label them separately. On
this page I'll point out a few subtle differences. Do not get hung up on the
fact that I've labeled one version as DIFFICULT and another as PROBLEM.
Many Deaf use the "DIFFICULT" version as their main sign for "PROBLEM." If you
are an interpreter and the Deaf person signs DIFFICULT but the sentence and
context indicate that the right interpretation is "problem" then you should of
course voice the word "problem."
There is another version of the sign DIFFICULT that I label as PROBLEM.
Both signs use the same handshapes, but this next version uses a twisting
A "difficult" situation can be one that is "tough" or "problematic."
The signs "tough," and "difficult," are related. The sign "DIFFICULT" uses a
two-part movement and moves both hands. "TOUGH" uses only a single movement, and
only the dominant hand moves.