The manner/result complementarity hypothesis has been influential in lexical and typological study, but lacks universal empirical verification and support from diachronic perspective. In light of cognitive sociolinguistics and motion event typology, we test this hypothesis by probing into the variation of Chinese climbing verb dēng from a diachronic perspective. We demonstrate that dēng can encode both manner and path simultaneously and interchangeably in constructions. The interplay between the formal dimension (i.e. dēng as an independent verb, V+Vdēng, and Vdēng+V) and the social dimension (i.e. stages of Chinese development) influences its meaning encoding status. It is concluded that this analysis poses a challenge to the hypothesis and therefore calls for a revision of the hypothesis.