The winner of the women's 100-meter freestyle swimming event at the London Olympics is the wonderfully named Ranomi Kromowidjojo of the Netherlands. Her last name (pronounced /'kromowɪ'ʤojo/) has naturally attracted some attention, so I thought I'd offer an explainer for those interested in its origins.
The name Kromowidjojo is from Javanese, with elements borrowed from Sanskrit. Ranomi's paternal grandfather was among the thousands of contract laborers from Java who migrated to Suriname when both were colonial outposts of the Netherlands. Around the time that Suriname gained its independence in 1975, a large number of Suriname Javanese ended up immigrating to the Netherlands, though enough stayed behind to make up about a third of the current population of Suriname. Ranomi's father, Rudi Kromowidjojo, was one of the immigrants, and he married a Dutch woman named Netty Deemter, Ranomi's mother.
Kromowidjojo is a distinctly Javanese name, reflecting the historical impact that Sanskritic culture has had on what is now Indonesia's dominant ethnic group. It is a compound of kromo + widjojo. Kromo is from Sanskrit krama (क्रम), which means "in order." The o's in the spelling of kromo reflect a phonological feature of Javanese in which the vowel /a/ is realized as [ɔ] in a word-final open syllable and in any preceding open syllables. Krama/kromo, in the sense of "properly ordered speech," came to be used for the "refined" or polite register in the system of Javanese speech levels.
The widjojo element is derived from Sanskrit vijaya (विजय), meaning "victory" or "excellence." Once again the o's reflect the pronunciation of open-syllable /a/ as [ɔ]. The consonants require some explanation, too. The initial /w/ is a typical nativization of /v/ in languages such as Javanese that lack that phoneme. [Ian Preston points out via Twitter that the initial Sanskrit consonant would actually be the labiodental approximant /ʋ/ rather than the voiced labiodental fricative /v/, but either way it's not in the Javanese phonemic inventory.]
The other consonants are pronounced like their Sanskrit equivalents, but the spelling may seem peculiar to those unfamiliar with Dutch colonial orthography. When Javanese, Malay, and other languages of the Indies were first romanized, they followed Dutch spelling conventions, including rendering /ʤ/ as dj, /ʧ/ as tj, and /j/ as j. Later, after Indonesian independence, many Dutch conventions were changed, culminating in the 1972 orthographic reform dictating that /ʤ/ be spelled as j, /ʧ/ as c, and /j/ as y. The use of the older spelling still lingers in some contexts: as I described in the 2008 post "Maya Soetoro-Ng: what's in a name?," it can betray a kind of colonial nostalgia. In the case of Kromowidjojo, members of the Suriname Javanese ethnic group with no ties to their ancestral land would not have taken part in the spelling reforms of independent Indonesia, so the old dj and j remain.
The Dutch National Archive has a database of the names of Javanese immigrants to colonial Suriname, and a search there shows a sizable number of Kromowidjojos, one of whom is presumably Ranomi's grandfather. I can imagine he would be pleased about his descendant's orderly victory at the Olympics.