The Vowels section of the Hungarian Phonology page has the following remarks:
/ɛ/ and the marginal /ɛː/ are phonetically near-open [æ, æː]
/i, y, u/ are phonetically near-close [ɪ, ʏ, ʊ]
I'm trying to understand what this really means. What does it mean for a sound to be phonologically /u/ but phonetically [ʊ]?
It this just a convenience to allow the "short" vowels and "long" vowels to be notated with similar phonemes: (e.g. u and ú represented by /u/ and /u:/ instead of /ʊ/ and /u:/)?
If this is just a convenience, it would explain the remarks for /i/, /y/, and /u/, whose orthographic markers all have "long" versions (i, í); (ü, ű); (u, ú). But it would not explain the situation for /ɛ/. The phoneme associated with the "long" version of the letter for /ɛ/ is /e:/ not /ɛ:/.
Speaking of which, Hungarian is a (relatively) highly phonetic language, and e is regularly the marker for /ɛ/. The page says this is "phonetically [æ]", but (to my native GA ear) it certainly does not sound like the vowel in TRAP, BATH, or CAT. The Hungarian word fekete has three of these, and an example pronunciations can be found at Forvo .
I do note that, comparing the Hungarian Phonology page to the English Phonology page, the articulation diagram has /ɛ/ in a much lower spot in Hungarian than in English, which is consistent with the notion that the Hungarian e sounds like [æ], but that notion does not match my experience---which includes hearing thousands of native speakers.
I'm just trying to make sense of this and would appreciate any help.