I'm about ready to bet a pig's butt to a C-note that it is
"The Language Clarifier" by Paul J. Nahin
... and aiming to find out. Unlike some answered stories, this one is being difficult to find and read again today to make sure. (Or add those demanded and coveted block-quotes from 30 years back in memory.)
This one was indeed in Omni.
Searching cross-library loans to read it again after decades, I witness in amazement that this powerful story has not been reprinted more.
From the Archive.org copy:
The idea for the invention
came during the divorce. He knew he was going to
be screwed, but with the legal mumbo jumbo of the
separation agreements, he couldn’t figure out how he
was being screwed. Janet's damn lawyer had drawn
them up — he'd even given the go-ahead for that, as he
hadn’t planned to contest her. After all, he had been
caught in a rather blatant, clear-cut position of adultery.
At the time, he had thought the wild-passioned honey-
blonde had been worth it, but now he was beginning to
"Well— all right, I do just happen to have
a test problem ready," So saying, Sam
walked over to his desk, rolled afresh piece
of heavy white bond paper into his type-
writer; and quickly snapped out in bold pica
letters; Liquid precipitation fell from the
heights, followed by the spherical solid
version, with the process terminated by the
reverse transport in the gaseous state.
Sam took the sheet over to the machine,
and with an expression that was a mixture
of glee and apprehension, held it up to the
INPUT slot. "Ready, Willard?’’ At the nod of
his friend's head. Sam pushed the paper
in. After only a few seconds, another piece
of paper shot from the output slot. Both
men grabbed it in midair, and together
read: First it rained, then it hailed, and fi-
nally the water evaporated.
"Well, I'll be damned'" they exclaimed in
unison. The Language Clarifier worked.
Sam leaned back in his chair with a
pleased smile on his face. "Willard, my boy,
there's an old rule of thumb in physics that
says if a process works in one direction, it
will almost always be true that it can go the
other way, too.”
Then Willard understood. "You don't
mean, you couldn't possibly mean — "
"Yep, that's right, I just moved a couple of
wires around, and now old Shyster just
stuffs his clearly written book draft into the
OUTPUT slot, and the most incomprehensible muddle you could possibly imagine
emerges from the input slot. Should be a
They think they can make a bundle selling it to Defense Research and Engineering at the Pentagon, but they get a negative answer in legalese. Feeding it into their prototype machine:
Sign the agreement, forget you ever
heard of the Language Clarifier, and you
get a megabuck a year for life. Don't sign
the agreement, and they toss you in the
slammer and throw away the key.
Sam lives in Hawaii now, retired from
teaching, and is writing a book on the
physics of hanging ten. Willard quit teaching, too, married Susan, and 1 would be
indelicate to discuss what they are doing.
Once a year they meet in San Francisco,
split the million bucks, have a few drinks at
Fisherman's Wharf, and ride the cablecar.
Oh, yes, Sam was right. Old Shyster's
book was a best-seller, thus proving you
don’t have to be smart to get paid a million
bucks for forgetting what you know, and
Quite often, merely being a fathead
lawyer is sufficient.