For the majority of use cases, Danswer provides an easy way to configure the system for multilingual use. To skip the details and just go to setup, see the Configuration section below.

How it works

Danswer has two main flows that assume English as a default. To use Danswer in multilingual or non-english cases, these must be handled.

  • The vector portion of the hybrid-search/reranking. This selects relevant documents to pass to the Large Language Model as context
  • The prompts for the Large Language Model to instruct it on how to answer user queries.

To address the first point, the English first embedding/reranking models can be swapped out for multilingual models. Additionally query expansion is applied to rephrase the user query into the target languages.

To address the second point, additional instructions are given to the LLM to respect the input language and to respond in the same language as the user query.

Note: The Danswer LLM prompts are still in English, just with added instructions if the user configures multilingual settings (see below). If all of your documents and queries are in some other language, it will be better to simply translate all of Danswer’s prompts directly to that target language. You can do so here.


Unless you are translating the LLM prompts yourself, the configuration for multilingual can be done entirely via environment variables. For Docker Compose, simply make an .env file in danswer/deployment/docker_compose and populate it with the desired values before deploying.

Update the values below to suit your particular needs, this example shows using Danswer with both French and English. The settings below have descriptions to help you configure values according to your use case.

# Rephrase the user query in specified languages using LLM, use comma separated values

# A recent MIT license multilingual model:

# The model above is trained with the following prefix for queries and passages to improve retrieval
# by letting the model know which of the two type is currently being embedded

# Depends model by model, the one shown above is tuned with this as True

# Use LLM to determine if chunks are relevant to the query
# May not work well for languages that do not have much training data in the LLM training set
# If using a common language like Spanish, French, Chinese, etc. this can be kept turned on

# The default reranking models are English first
# There are no great quality French/English reranking models currently so turning this off

# Enables fine-grained embeddings for better retrieval
# At the cost of indexing speed (~5x slower), query time is same speed
# Since reranking is turned off and multilingual retrieval is generally harder
# it is advised to turn this one on

# Using a stronger LLM will help with multilingual tasks
# Since documents may be in multiple languages, and there are additional instructions to respond
# in the user query's language, it is advised to use the best model possible

An up to date template of multilingual settings is also provided directly in the code repository in the same directory as where the .env file should be placed. See here for reference.


If you’ve configured everything correctly, you should now be able to get good answers across the different languages that you’ve set the system up for. See below for an example using French.