The PHB starts chapter 2: Races off talking about ability requirements, class choice, level limits, languages. Initially, no mention is made of common at all, humans start off knowing the "regional human language" which, given the implication of this, perhaps means that common is NOT the human starting language.
It then mentions the standard races, Dwarves, Elves, Gnomes, Halflings, Half Elves, and Humans. The core rules DO actually mention different subraces of demihumans, but the only race where there's a mechanical difference between the subraces is the Halfling. It's also the only race where you're not actually allowed to pick your subrace, instead you have to roll percentile dice to make the determination.
After this it has the demographic charts with age categories, and height/weight., though it does say in the text that use of the starting age and height and weight should just be a range that players can pick and choose from.
The DMG chapter on race is about some pretty standard stuff. Level limits and creation of new PC races. Interestingly, a non-standard race's level limits are actually variable by their Prime Requisite ability score. In addition to this there are some fairly stringent requirements on what can and can't be played(as well as all the ability score adjustments actually required, right there in the core rules). Though there's a section on "A Non-Human World" the text makes a human-centric world the default. Compared to classes however, non-standard races are actually part of the actual core rules(arguably, but it was not in the little blue box). Later(perhaps after I finish getting through the core books), I'll post some examples of rules appropriate "monstrous races"
There are only 4 actual standard classes in 2nd edition. There's also two other "standard" character types.
Fighters: Fighters are able to use any weapons and any armor, as well as a fair number of magic items. Beyond this they have the best Hit Dice(which are rolled at all appropriate levels, including 1st), and Thac0 progression. They are also the only class that gains multiple attacks at higher levels in addition to followers. Overall this tends to make low level fighters look somewhat lackluster compared to the cleric or thief.
Mage: Magi are able to use only a handful of weapons, most magic items, and spells. At higher levels they even get to make magic items. Mages are also the only class, by core rules, that do not attract followers after building a stronghold at high level.
Clerics: Clerics are, in my opinion at least, one of the most overpowered classes in the game. In essence they have the capacity to cast more spells per day than a mage, and they can do it while wearing armor. In addition to this, they also have the ability to turn undead. The only real downside is that they may only use bludgeoning weapons.
Thief: Probably the most time consuming of the characters to build(because of point allotment). They get a fair number of special abilities and a decent array of weapons. The light armor and common man hp means they aren't likely to win any drawn out slug fests as compared to the cleric or fighter.
Multi-classed/Dual Classed characters: Multi-classing is a strictly demi-human trait. One of the trade-offs for lacking unlimited level advancement. It can get pretty crazy however if you decide to ignore the standard rules. Dual Classing is a human only trait. the requirements for it are pretty tough though, and rarely likely to occur in a game that uses the standard 3d6 in order.
0 level characters: These represent the every day "non-special" humans that make up the cultures of the assumed default world. The interesting content on these guys are the hit points. The ability scores are generally regarded as unimportant. Hit points are determined by race and class. Dwarves and Gnomes, for instance are considered to have 1d8 hp, while the average joe on the street of other races generally has 1d6 hp. The most hp any one 0 level character is written as having is 1d8+1, and that's for soldiers.
Beyond a discussion of common character types, the DMG also talks about High levels and beginning character levels. the implied core rule states that unless the character are very high level, no new character should be allowed to start off above 4th level. It also states that the DM should have an assortment of pre-gens available. These are to be used by players whose characters have died, or by guest players.
More to come tomorrow!